The Health Benefits of Raspberry Ketones

raspberries

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Raspberry ketones are aromatic bioactive phytochemicals found in red raspberries (Rubusidaeus) and other red fruits that are extracted and used in perfumes and cosmetics. They're also used as flavoring agents in some fruit-flavored foods. While raspberry ketones work well for those purposes, they're also often touted as a weight loss aid.

Health Benefits of Raspberry Ketones

Despite raspberry ketones being marketed as a natural weight loss aid, there has been only one study that looked into raspberry ketones and weight loss in humans. The 2013 clinical trial showed that a multi-ingredient weight loss product, which contained raspberry ketones among its ingredients, decreased body weight, body fat mass, and waist and hip girth in subjects with obesity a significant amount.

Note that raspberry ketones were only one of many ingredients in the studied product—whether they specifically were responsible for the weight loss or if it was the combination of ingredients is unclear.

There have been a number of studies done on mice; however, what works in mice isn’t guaranteed to work the same in humans. Older research from 2005 aimed to determine if raspberry ketones help to prevent obesity and turn on fat energy storage. The rats were fed a high-fat diet with varying amounts of raspberry ketone for six weeks. Researchers discovered that raspberry ketones prevented weight gain in the rodents' body generally, and more specifically in the liver and belly fat.

That said, a 2017 study investigated the effect of raspberry ketones on adipose fat gain, liver fat storage, and adiponectin (a protein hormone responsible for metabolic processes) plasma levels in mice on a high-fat diet and found that supplementing raspberry ketones had a "limited benefit" for weight loss.

Another 2018 study explored whether raspberry ketones would have any effect on white adipose tissue—fat that results from excess calorie intake—acquiring characteristics of brown adipose tissue, which generates heat by burning calories.

Researchers learned that raspberry ketones "significantly induced browning" of certain cells, reduced body weight gain, and limited food intake, among other benefits, in rats with obesity. They concluded that the study's findings provided some evidence to support using raspberry ketones clinically to treat obesity.

Currently, there is no reliable scientific evidence to support raspberry ketones as a weight-loss supplement for humans.

Possible Side Effects

Because clinical evidence on the effects of raspberry ketones in humans is lacking, it’s hard to say whether it is safe or not. Stimulant-like effects, including increased heartbeat and high blood pressure, are not uncommon in people taking raspberry ketones.

Raspberry ketones may possibly have damaging effects on the heart muscle and teratogenic consequences (abnormal fetal developments due to drugs, chemicals, or infections). They might also negatively interact with drugs used to treat diabetes and blood clotting medications (like warfarin).

Dosage and Preparation

Raspberry ketone supplements are available in capsule, tablet, liquid, and powder form. The dosage varies from 100 to 1400 milligrams per day, which is notably higher than what a person would consume in a regular serving of fruit or in the form of flavorings.

Some brands that sell raspberry ketone supplements claim to be all-natural or state that their product is made with natural ingredients. These claims can be misleading, as most manufacturers use synthetic ketones. Even though raspberry ketones are naturally found in raspberries, the amount found in a single raspberry is minuscule and expensive to obtain.

What to Look For

When choosing a supplement, it's best to look for one that has been approved through a third-party verification company that has checked the quality of the product. As supplements do not require FDA approval to be sold, it is the manufacturer's responsibility to ensure that their product is of good quality and safe to consume.

Be wary of supplements that claim to be free from side effects, have the ability to fix a problem or cure a disease, or deem themselves to be completely and totally safe. Chances are, they aren’t. 

If you’re looking for a safe way to include raspberry ketones in your weight loss journey, consider simply incorporating raspberries as part of a healthy diet. While they don’t contain the same amount of ketones as a supplement would, whole red raspberries are high in fiber and are a good source of vitamin C—and don't carry the same risk of side effects.

Other Questions

People often confuse raspberry ketones for having ketogenic effects as touted by the popular ketogenic diet. The keto diet aims to burn fat, rather than carbohydrates, through a process called ketosis. Raspberry ketones do not have this effect.

One small study showed that applying raspberry ketones topically in a cream may promote hair growth, but more research needs to be done to prove whether this is truly effective or not.

A Word From Verywell

There is no conclusive scientific evidence supporting the use of raspberry ketones as a weight loss supplement. Before starting raspberry ketones or any other weight loss supplement, be sure to speak with your doctor. If you are interested in losing weight, they can help you determine the best way for you.

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