“Scientists are consistently exploring new ways that cranberries may impact and influence human health. With a database of over 600 studies and growing, The Cranberry Institute’s Health Research Library collects and collates research abstracts.” ~ Cranberry Institute.
Native Americans treated a variety of illnesses, including bladder infections, with cranberry preparations.
Ok, now time to learn all about the health benefits of this berry.
Health Benefits of Cranberries
1. They are Great for Oral Care
Helpful for the Teeth
There is a substance in these berries that prevents bacteria from binding to the surface of teeth, according to research at the Center for Oral Biology and Eastman Department of Dentistry at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.
They decrease cavity and plaque producing bacteria in your mouth say Dental Researchers.
2. Keeps the Urinary Tract Healthy
We have heard about cranberry juice fighting urinary tract infections for a long time. It does do that and research backs it up. – Science Daily
“A number of controlled clinical trials — these are carefully designed and conducted scientific studies done in humans — have concluded that cranberry juice really is effective for preventing urinary tract infections,” said Terri Anne Camesano, Ph.D., who led the study.
This is very important as 1 out of 5 women get a urinary tract infection (UTI) in their lifetime. UTI account for 8 – 10 million medical visits each year. ~ Cleaveland Clinic.
3. Protection for Cancers
Breast, oral, stomach, and prostate cancers are helped with the use of cranberry.
They are a rich source of the flavonoid quercetin which can inhibit the development of these cancers.
The American Institute for Cancer Research has posted the cranberry as one of the Foods That Fight Cancer.
“When comparing people with and without cancer, studies show that people who eat more fruit have a lower risk of several cancers, though often with significant individual variation. In a large population survey, people with diets higher in total flavonoids and anthocyanidins had lower levels of an indicator of inflammation.” ~ American Institute for Cancer Research
4. Beneficial for the Heart
Preliminary studies show that drinking cranberry juice is good for the health of the heart.
A science review found that cranberry supplementing can help manage risk factors for Cardiovascular disease which includes blood pressure.
5. Helps to Reduces Bacteria
The bacteria associated with peptic stomach ulcers are reduced with this berry.
A study with 271 children found that cranberry juice consumed daily for 3 weeks suppressed the growth of bacteria in the digestive tract.
“Cranberry polyphenols may interact with other bioactive compounds in cranberries that could protect the gut microbiota, and provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions that benefit the cardiovascular system, metabolism, and immune function.” says Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD at Massachusetts Cranberries.
This will help strengthen the gut, protecting it against infection.
6. Helps Boost Your Immune System
They are very high in vitamin C which is helpful for the immune system. A cup of these berries has 22% percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.
7. Helps Prevent Scurvy
The sailors in New England and Native American Indians, ate the wild berries to prevent scurvy.
8. Helpful for the Eyes
It can significantly improve the symptoms of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Please Note: This berry may lead to high excretion of oxalate in urine which could cause the formation of kidney stones especially for those with a history of kidney stones. They should consult their doctor before consuming more cranberries.
For those on the blood-thinning drug warfarin, it is best not to suddenly increase their intake of cranberries.
Cranberries are almost 90% water. Still, they are full of the phytonutrients proanthocyanidins and anthocyanins; flavan-3-ols like catechins and epicatechins; flavonols like isorhamnetin, kaempferol, myricetin, and quercetin; and terpenoids like ursolic acid which offer many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits.
Also, the cranberry is a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, dietary fiber, and a good source of vitamin E, vitamin K, copper, and pantothenic acid.
Learn more about raw Cranberry Nutrition.
Did you know?
- Cranberries are also called “bounce berries” because they bounce when ripe.
- There are only three fruits, the blueberry, the Concord grape and the cranberry (all superfoods) that can trace their roots to North American soil.
- They are commonly consumed during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons but can, and should, be used every day.
- Sex and the City made the red juice of the cranberry popular in the 90’s with their favorite cocktail, the Cosmopolitan.
- 400 million pounds of cranberries are eaten every year by Americans and 20 percent during Thanksgiving week.
- The estimated value of these berries grown in the United States is several hundred million dollars.
- The native Americans pounded cranberries into a paste and mixed it with dried meat which they called ‘pemmican.’
- In 1683 American settlers made the first cranberry juice.
- The cranberry has been enjoyed by many native peoples for 12,000 years in North America.
- The farming of them started in Massachusetts in 1810.
- General Ulysses S. Grant served cranberry sauce to the troops during the siege of Petersburg in 1864.
- It was first canned in 1912 by the Cape Cod Cranberry Company.
- The marshes created in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s for the growing of the cranberry around Manitowish Waters and Eagle River in Wisconsin is still there to this day. Also, some of the vines that currently grow these berries are over 100 years old.
How to Select the Best Cranberries
- They are harvested in the fall between mid-September and mid-November which is the best time to get fresh berries.
- Choose plump ones that are firm to the touch and a rich red. When you find the berry firm you will know they are of high quality.
Dried or Fresh?
Dried ones still have the distinct flavour of the fresh one. They are easy to handle and store and still provide some of the nutrient benefits available from fresh ones. But they are usually sweetened and lose many nutrients during processing. If you can find some unsweetened ones, they would be best for some recipes.
How to Store
- They can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks. Always discard any soft, discolored, or shriveled fruits before storing.
- It is best that they stay refrigerated until they are to be eaten. Keeping them refrigerated will help preserve their vitamin C.
- When frozen, they will keep for 6–12 months. It is easy to freeze them; spread them out on a cookie sheet and place them in the freezer. When they are frozen (about 2 hours) put them in a freezer bag.
- When you thaw them, they will be quite soft; it is best that the berries are used immediately.
Skip the Sugar
Most cranberry products on the market are full of sugar.
- 1 cup of fresh cranberries = about 50 calories.
- 1 cup of cranberry sauce contains = 400 calories.
That is why I make my own sugar-free cranberry sauce, see recipe below.
The health benefits of cranberries are almost totally depleted when generous amounts of sugar are added. Thus it cannot provide you with its full phytonutrient benefits when there has been lots of sugar added.
Also, check out my 7 Tips to Reduce Sugar Cravings.
Tips for Eating or Cooking Cranberries
- Add dried cranberries to homemade trail mix or to oatmeal or a bowl of whole-grain cereal or a salad.
- Put in fresh or dried ones into a cookie or muffin recipe.
- Add a handful of fresh or frozen cranberries into a fruit smoothie.
- Include fresh ones to an apple dessert for more flavour.
- Add them to your fruit punch for more punch to your punch and it adds some beautiful red.
“Cranberries contain a massive amount of natural pectins. They will gel all on their own, which is why you can basically make cranberry sauce out of filling.” ~ Alton Brown
Healthy Cranberry Recipes Without All That Sugar
Cranberry Sauce Sugar-free Recipe That Is Healthy – Enjoy all the goodness and health benefits with this sauce. Here is my version of the popular Cranberry Sauce without any sugar which is no easy thing when it comes to cranberries as they are so tart.
Cranberry Ginger Bars – This is a tasty treat that is easy to make and filled with healthy ingredients. These cranberry ginger bars are a very tasty combination of cranberries and ginger! I like anything with ginger but these bars are so good. Of course, all my recipes have no refined sugar or cane sugar making them very healthy.
Cranberry Celery Onion Gluten-Free Stuffing– This delicious gluten-free stuffing makes a holiday meal special and memorable. Try this healthy recipe and you will satisfy both the difficult and easy to please! Cranberries and onions are so healthy we put them in the Superfood category.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Cranberries This roasted Brussels sprouts dish is exceptionally tasty, fit for a celebration meal. Roasting the Brussel sprouts till crisp takes away the sulfur odor and taste. Adding the cranberries and pecans takes it to a whole other level for a special meal.
Learn more about some of the healthiest vegetarian foods you will always want to have in your pantry or growing on your deck.
READ: Superfoods – Over 100 of the Healthiest Foods You Should Have in Your Diet and learn more about the variety of Superfoods we think you should have in your diet.