Cranberry is a glossy, dark red berry that grows on long-running vines, in native colder regions of the northern hemisphere, such as the US, Canada and Europe. In fact, cranberry sauce is an indispensable ingredient of the traditional American and Canadian Thanksgiving menu and European winter festivals. This cousin of blueberry has a very tart or acidic taste. Cranberries have long been valued for their medicinal properties and have very high antioxidant content. In olden times, sailors used them as a source of vitamin C, to prevent scurvy. In the 18th century, it was used in Native America, to stop wounds from bleeding. Today, medical professionals recommend cranberries for their numerous, powerful health benefits. They have even gained the commercial status of a “superfruit”. Statistics shows that around 400 million pounds of cranberries are consumed in a year in America itself. They can be consumed fresh, dried, juice, and even as sauce. Nutrition benefits of eating cranberries are innumerous. Explore the big benefits of this small berry, in the following pointers.
Health Benefits Of Eating Cranberries
- Cranberries have the ability to prevent and treat urinary tract infections. Their juice contains an antibacterial agent and certain other compounds, which together reduce the ability of E. coli bacteria to stick to the walls of urinary tract.
- Cranberries contain quinic acid, which prevents the combination of calcium and phosphate ions to form insoluble stones. Hence, they are also beneficial against the formation of kidney stones.
- Studies show that the antioxidant content of cranberries is five times that of broccoli. In addition, a comparison with 19 other common fruits proved that the berry has the maximum amount of antioxidant. This is very important in the treatment of cancer and also helps lower the cholesterol level, to some extent.
- Cranberry lowers harmful cholesterol (LDL) and raises good cholesterol (HDL) in the body. Researchers attribute this property of cranberries to the presence of high level of polyphenols, a type of potent antioxidant, in the fruit.
- The antioxidants present in cranberry improve the function of the blood vessels, which reduces the risk of heart diseases and heart attack.
- A handful of dried cranberries everyday can protect you from breast cancer. Laboratory studies have shown that cranberry stops the growth of human breast cancer cells. It does so by causing the cancer cells to commit suicide and also by stopping their ability to multiply.
- Cranberry juice increases the effect of medicines used to treat ulcer and many digestive complaints. Drinking the juice remarkably speeds the eradication of the bacteria responsible for ulcers and digestive complaints in women receiving triple therapy with the antibiotics omeprazole, amoxicillin, and clarithromycin (OAC).
- Cranberry is found to have protective effects against bladder infection. Its juice has the potential to stop and even reverse the formation of plaque.
- Studies suggest that undiluted cranberry juice can become an alternative to antibiotics. The compounds in cranberry juice have the ability to change the harmful bacteria strains, which have become resistant to conventional treatment. This way, cranberry juice makes these harmful bacteria incapable of causing infection.
- Cranberries are a rich source of dietary fiber. The roughage present in them helps relieve constipation, among its other benefits.
- Cranberries aid in recovery from stroke.
- People with already existing and untreated kidney or gall bladder problems should avoid eating cranberries. They contain oxalates. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and pose health problems.
- It is recommended that patients using warfarin should avoid cranberry juice.
- Before using cranberries for any purpose, make sure to clean them properly. Place them in a strainer and gently rinse under cool running water.
- For frozen berry recipes that do not require cooking, defrost them carefully and drain them before using.
- For those recipes that require cooking, use berries that are unthawed, as this will ensure maximum flavor.
- Prolong the cooking time of a recipe by a few minutes, in order to accommodate the frozen berries.