‘Tis the season to love… Cranberries!
It turns out that cranberries aren’t just for the holidays. Of corse we love them as a turkey sauce, but they’re one of the healthiest and most versatile ingredients you can enjoy year round.
Whether you use fresh cranberries or dried, both provide flavonoid antioxidants that have multiple 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.
One of three commercially grown native fruits to North America, cranberries’ health benefits have been touted for centuries. Their strength lies in their phytochemicals (over 150 kinds!) which have antibacterial and antioxidant properties. In fact a new review by ten worldwide nutrition experts published in the international journal Advances in Nutrition, concludes that cranberries provide unique compounds that may help reduce the incidence of certain infections, improve heart health and temper inflammation.
Compared to 20 other common fruits, cranberries have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants. This substantial reservoir of antioxidants arms cranberries in the fight against heart disease, inflammation, certain cancers (e.g., prostate, breast), and age-related conditions like loss of memory and coordination.
Cranberries are known for their ability to help ward off UTIs. UTIs are typically treated with antibiotics, but as concerns over antibiotic resistance mounts, more attention has been given to preventative measures, like cranberry intake. More than 70 studies have shown that consuming cranberries may help reduce UTIs, especially in women experiencing recurring UTIs.
Researchers have found that the unique PACs in cranberries help prevent the attachment of certain bacteria to cell walls in our body. In addition to preventing UTIs, these “anti-adhesive” properties have shown promise in blocking the attachment of bacteria causing stomach ulcers, gastric cancer, cavities, and gum disease.
Cranberries and Your Diet
Cranberries are a versatile fruit, and whether you prefer savory or sweet you can’t go wrong. Try dried cranberries in salads, yogurt, and quinoa/rice dishes, or even in a trail mix for on-the-go snacking. These are easy ways to add fruit servings. According to the USDA MyPlate recommendations, just a ½ cup of dried cranberries equals one serving of fruit.
You can also get the benefits of cranberries with whole cranberries or cranberry juice. For inspiration, try some of the recipes below: