Health Benefits of Cranberries

cranberriesPeople are raving about this tart little berry as an all-star food, and with good reason. Cranberries contain a powerful cocktail of plant chemicals like flavonoids and phenolic acids that are being investigated for their role as antioxidants in the body1.

Researchers are also looking at cranberry extracts for their potential in future cancer-treatment drugs2.

In addition to antioxidant properties, there is limited evidence that cranberries lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by influencing the lipoprotein profile3.

Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice been used for decades for the prevention of urinary tract infections (UTI). Multiple studies suggest that drinking cranberry juice may decrease UTIs by inhibiting bacteria from adhering to the cells that line the bladder4.

cranberries in salad

Cranberry Trivia

  • 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.

Cranberry Craze

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.

Tip

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.

 

References:

1. Manganaris GA, Goulas V, Vicente AR, Terry LA. Berry antioxidants: small fruits providing large benefits. J Sci Food Agric. 2014 Mar 30;94(5):825-33. 

2. Khuda-Bukhsh AR, Das S, Saha SK. Molecular approaches toward targeted cancer prevention with some food plants and their products: inflammatory and other signal pathways. Nutr Cancer. 2014;66(2): 194-205. 

3. Blumberg JB, Camesano TA, Cassidy A, Kris-Etherton P, et al. Cranberries and their bioactive constituents in human health. Adv Nutr. 2013 Nov 6;4(6):618-32. 

4. Vasileiou I, Katsargyris A, Theocharis S, Giaginis C. Current clinical status on the preventive effects of cranberry consumption against urinary tract infections. Nutr Res. 2013 Aug;33(8):595-607.