Food 101: Cranberries

The cranberry is a tiny, tart fruit grouped into evergreen dwarf shrubs with low creeping vines that can extend up to 7 feet long! Its deep pink flowers pollinate and grow into white berries that eventually mature into crimson cranberries. The acidic taste of the cranberry overwhelms its sweet flavour. The sour and tart phytonutrients are in part what determine the health benefits of a cranberry!

Cranberries were a common food used in traditional Native American foods. Many cranberry species have been grown and enjoyed in Europe and Asia, but were first commercially grown in North America. The majority of cranberry crops are processed to make cranberry juice and sauce. The hard, bitter red berry is not appetizing when raw. However, there are a multitude of ways fresh cranberries can be treated to produce mouth-watering meals and treats that contain healthful nutrients. Research indicates that cranberries may help to reduce urinary tact infections, have protective antioxidant effects, digestive tract benefits and anticancer effects! 

Why is it healthy?

½ cup of cranberries contains:

  • 12% daily vitamin C requirements
  • 2.5g dietary fibre
  • 10% manganese requirements

Photo from Wikipedia

Cranberries have been used to treat and prevent urinary tract infections. Components of the cranberry may actually prevent bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall, therefore causing harmful bacteria to be cleared with the stream of urine.

The amazing red color of the cranberry comes from the powerful phytonutrients proanthocyanidins, which are effective in lowering unwanted inflammation in the body. This group of antioxidants helps to protect the heart, blood vessels and digestive system from oxidative damage. Chronic excess inflammation and oxidative stress are two key factors that lead to cancer cell formation. A unique combination of antioxidants in cranberries including resveratrol, are what provide strong protection against this stress.

Bacteria called Helicobacter pylori that burrow into the stomach wall and duodenum cause ulcers in the gut. Fortunately, there is evidence pointing to the benefits of cranberries in preventing the adhesion of these bacteria to the stomach wall, thereby preventing peptic ulcers!

Including Cranberries in your diet

 Cranberries can be enjoyed dried, baked, fresh or frozen. These little bursts of sour sweetness retain more benefit activity from their nutrient and antioxidant content when not treated with heat. Throw a few frozen cranberries into your water glass and eat them when you’re done. They’ll be a refreshing pop in your day!

Recipe Ideas:

  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Turkey Cranberry Quesadillas
  • Cranberry Compote and Orange Ricotta
  • Cranberry Banana Smoothie
  • Cranberry Lemon Muffins
  • Cranberry Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Mixed Green Salmon Salad with Cranberries and Goat Cheese
  • Cranberry Orange Pancakes
  • Thyme Wild Rice with Cranberries
  • Lemon Cranberry Shortbread

Did you know that…

Cranberries are grown in water bogs! It is easier to harvest the cranberries that are floating on the water surface. This is a positive convenience as sun-exposed cranberries contain higher antioxidant content compared to those that are submerged below the surface!

December 1, 2014
Revive Wellness