The fruit is a berry that is larger than the leaves of the plant; it is initially white, but turns a deep red when fully ripe. It is edible, with an acidic taste that can overwhelm its sweetness.
Cranberries are small berries but with big health benefits. They are not grown in India but are a major commercial crop in certain American states and Canadian provinces. In India, they are available in dried form or as cranberry juice.
About 95% of cranberries are processed into products such as juice drinks, sauce, and sweetened dried cranberries. The remaining are sold fresh to consumers.
Whether you use fresh cranberries or dried, both provide flavonoid antioxidants that have many health benefits. One cup fresh or ½ cup of dried cranberries equals a fruit serving and they’re a good source of vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. Thus, they are often referred to as "Super Food". Not to mention, half a cup of cranberries contains only 25 calories.
Some of the benefits of Cranberries:
1. Berries are Nutrient and Antioxidant-Rich
Colorful berries such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and cranberries are considered some of the most nutrient-rich foods. They provide nutrients like vitamin C and fiber, but they are excellent when it comes to their antioxidant capacity. Since antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals, which damage our cells and DNA, they can help prevent certain chronic diseases and may help mitigate some of the effects that naturally occur as we age.
2. Cranberries Provide Unique Urinary Tract Benefits
Hundreds of studies show that regular consumption of cranberry juice or cranberry products is associated with a reduction in risk for urinary tract infections. This is thought to be due to the type of polyphenols in cranberries that prevent E. coli bacteria for sticking to the surface of the cells in the urinary tract. The specific polyphenols in cranberries are structurally different than those found in other foods, which is why cranberries are essential. Drinking a cup of cranberry juice or having a serving of dried cranberries daily is sufficient to help reduce your risk.
3. Cranberries are a Tasty Complement to Your Dishes
Dried cranberries are a great addition to your recipes—from appetizers to desserts. They’re easily added to oatmeal or yogurt; go great with grain side dishes, casseroles, on top of salads, in wraps, or baked goods.
4. Cranberries are Good for Your Mouth and Stomach
This may be surprising, but there are several scientific papers on the role of cranberries and oral health. Studies show that the unique anti-bacterial properties that help prevent against UTIs, also help prevent bacterial adherence in your mouth and stomach. This may help protect against cavities, periodontal disease and stomach ulcers.
5. Cranberries are Heart-Smart
Cranberries also provide the same heart-smart flavonoids that are commonly found in red wine and grapes. These bio-active natural plant compounds help reduce risk for cardiovascular disease by helping to reduce inflammation and inhibiting low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-oxidation and boosting the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Cranberries also help relax blood vessels to improve blood pressure.
6. Cranberries are Fiber-rich
Due to high fiber in them, cranberries are associated with significantly lower risks for developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss for obese individuals.
7. Cranberries protect from some form of cancers
Research has shown that cranberries are beneficial in slowing tumor progression and have shown positive effects against prostate, liver, breast, ovarian, and colon cancers.
Cranberries can also be enjoyed dried or in a can, but watch out for added sugars. Check the ingredient label and make sure that the product contains cranberries only. If you choose to drink cranberry juice, it is often mixed with other fruits and added sweeteners. Look for juice with cranberries as the first ingredient.
More tips for enjoying cranberries:
- Make a homemade trail mix with unsalted nuts, seeds and dried cranberries.
- Include a small handful of frozen cranberries in a fruit smoothie.
- Toss dried or fresh cranberries into your favorite muffins or cookie recipe.
Cranberry products may increase urine oxalate excretion, which could promote the formation of kidney stones. Individuals with a history of kidney stones should talk to their healthcare provider before including any forms of cranberries in their diet.
Cranberry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia