Health Benefits of Cranberries

Cranberries, native to North America, have a long history of medicinal food use. Native Americans used the fruit for the treatment of bladder and kidney ailments hundreds of years ago. Chewy cranberries are now popular worldwide, and for a good reason. Their unique tartness complements a wide variety of dishes; they make a delicious drink, and they’re an easy no-mess snack on the go. This bright little berry packs a decent nutritional punch and holds a range of potential health benefits…

Help to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections: It is believed that around 60% of women will suffer from a urinary tract infection at some point in their lives. Caused by microorganisms, including E. coli, these infections are usually treated with antibiotics. As always, taking a preventative approach is the wisest way to avoid an infection starting in the first place and consequent overuse of antibiotics. Cranberries are widely applauded for their role in preventing UTIs, especially for those with recurrent infections. Chemicals found in cranberry products called proanthocyanidins (PACs) can prevent E. coli, which is the cause of about 85% of UTIs. The high level of PACs in cranberries is said to help reduce the adhesion of specific bacteria to the urinary tract walls, which in turn, helps to prevent and fight off infections.

High in antioxidants: Like other berries, cranberries contain high levels of health-promoting antioxidants. In fact, they contain more than superfoods such as spinach and strawberries. It’s the  anthocyanidin flavonoids that give them their bright red color but they also contain other health enhancing antioxidants such as cyanidin and quercetin. Research suggests that cranberries can also help to protect against cancer due partly to potent antioxidant polyphenols that they contain.

Brain Booster: According to research presented by Tufts University, the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in cranberries may help to protect the brain from age-related memory loss.

Promote a Healthy Heart: According to the British Journal of Nutrition, a daily dose of cranberries can increase high-density lipoprotein (also known as HDL  or the “good cholesterol”) Some research also suggests that the polyphenols in cranberries may help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by preventing platelet build-up and reducing blood pressure.

Enhance Dental Health: According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the proanthocyanidins in cranberries that help prevent UTIs may also benefit dental health by preventing bacteria from binding to teeth. Cranberries may also be beneficial in preventing gum disease.

Good source of Vitamin C & E: Cranberries are a good source of immune-enhancing vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to counter some of the damage caused by free radicals. Cranberries also contain a decent amount of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant involved in immune function.

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Tips for enjoying cranberries:

  • Make a scroggin mix with nuts, seeds and dried cranberries.
  • Add frozen cranberries to your morning smoothies
  • Stir dried cranberries into your porridge or cereal
  • Add dried cranberries to bran muffin recipes
  • Add frozen cranberries to homemade apple pies
  • Throw a handful of dried cranberries into a spinach, feta and pinenut salad

Not just reserved for serving with the Christmas turkey, cranberries should be enjoyed year round for their delicious tart flavour and the multitude of nutritional health benefits they hold. Enjoy!

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