Health Benefits of Cranberries
People are raving about this tart, little berry as an all-star food, and with good reason. Cranberries contain a powerful cocktail of protective phytonutrients; plant chemicals that contain protective, disease-preventing compounds (flavonoids and phenolic acids) that act as antioxidants in the body.
Cranberry extracts have been shown to inhibit the growth of oral, colon, and prostate cancer cells, in addition to battling breast cancer cells. Phytonutrients in cranberries may also be involved in inhibiting the spread of cancer cells throughout the body.
In addition to its anti-cancer properties, cranberries may also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol, inhibiting LDL oxidation (one of the first steps in the progression of coronary artery disease), lowering blood pressure and inhibiting the formation of blood clots.
Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice been used for decades for the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections (UTI). Multiple studies suggest that drinking cranberry juice may decrease symptomatic UTIs, especially for women with recurrent UTIs. Cranberry juice may prevent UTIs by inhibiting bacteria from adhering to the cells that line the bladder.
Cranberry juice may also protect against stomach ulcers by preventing the adhesion of the bacteria H. pylori on the stomach wall.
- The Algonquin Indians may have been the first people to harvest wild cranberries. They used the berries for food, medicine and as a symbol of peace.
- The Pequot Indians of Cape Cod named the berry “ibimi”, which means bitter berry.
- Cranberries are filled with air pockets, which makes them bounce. In fact, you can tell if a cranberry is fresh by whether or not it bounces. Rotten berries will not bounce. The air pocket also allows cranberries to float in water.
- Cranberries are composed of almost 90% water.
- There are about 3,333 cranberries in a gallon of cranberry juice!
Did you Know?
Wisconsin produces the largest cranberry crop out of all the states in the U.S. In fact, the cranberry is Wisconsin’s official state fruit.
Cranberries do not grow in water, but on low-running vines in marshes. When the fruit is ripe, the marsh is flooded. The floating berries are then more easily harvested.
Don’t let the tartness of this berry discourage you, there are many ways to enjoy cranberries!
- Substitute sweetened dried cranberries in any baked good recipe calling for raisins.
- Sprinkle your salad with dried sweetened cranberries for a tart surprise.
- A homemade cranberry glaze can liven up any chicken or pork dish.
- Add a splash of cranberry juice to lemonade for a refreshing treat.
- Make your own, healthier soft drink by mixing 1 part cranberry juice with 1 part club soda.
- Mix 1/4 cup raw cranberries with 1 small unpeeled orange (diced) and 1/4 sugar in the blender. Blend for 40 seconds, then mix with whipped butter for a refreshing new treat to add on your morning waffles or pancakes.
Take advantage of cranberries' tartness by using them to replace vinegar or lemon when dressing your green salads. Toss the greens with a little olive oil then add color and zest with a handful of raw cranberries.
One serving of raw cranberries is 1/2 cup.
Enjoy the health benefits of cranberries by serving cranberry recipes.