When we think of cranberries, visions of the popular holiday cranberry sauce or relish is usually the first thing to pop into our mind. Most people enjoy the taste of cranberry sauce or relish, but as a child, I remember not being particularly fond of the tart taste. However, this small red, tart-tasting berry comes chocked-full of many surprising health benefits supported by research. In fact, many experts recommend daily servings of cranberries whether the fruit itself or the juice. Let’s talk more about the amazing health benefits of cranberries.
According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, many cranberries are water-harvested. Water-harvesting means that the cranberries are grown in bogs and floated in water to allow for easy harvesting. For many years, water-harvesting of cranberries was an industry convenience. It’s simply easier to harvest berries that are floating on the surface. However, recent research has shown that the anthocyanin content of cranberries (the phytonutrients that give the berries their amazing red color) increases in direct proportion to the amount of natural sunlight striking the berry. If berries floating on top of water get exposed to increased amounts of natural sunlight (in comparison to other growing and harvesting conditions), they are likely to develop greater concentrations of anthocyanins. These greater concentrations of anthocyanins are likely to provide us with stronger health benefits. In other words, water-harvesting may turn out to provide more than just harvest convenience. If it can expose cranberries to greater amounts of natural sunlight, it can increase phytonutrient health benefits that involve the unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of anthocyanins.
Cranberries rank right at the top of the list when it comes to fruits and vegetables richest in antioxidants. As we know, antioxidants are essential to good health by combating free radicals that can damage cellular structures as well as DNA.
Cranberry juice (make sure it’s 100% juice with no added sugar) is highly known for its usefulness in treating urinary tract infections because it contains proanthocyanidins which act as a barrier to bacteria in the urinary tract. Streptococcus mutans, a gram-negative bacteria, stop plaque from sticking to the surface of your teeth and is an excellent illustration of how some bacteria in the body is helpful.
One particular study of cranberry juice suggests that UTIs are extremely prevalent and cause 60% of women to suffer from a urinary tract infection at some point in their lives. Caused by microorganisms, including E. coli, UTI infections are commonly treated with a round of antibiotics. However, one study suggests that one to 1½ cups of cranberry juice or cranberry juice cocktail every day can prevent 50% of UTI occurrences and curtail harmful bacteria. Consuming cranberries (36 mg) twice-a-day may offer added protection during a 24-hour period.
17 Amazing Health Benefits of Cranberries
- contains proanthocyanidins which act as a barrier to bacteria in the urinary tract
- anti-inflammatory benefits
- decreases the risk of periodontal disease
- improves immune system
- lowers the frequency of cold & flu symptoms
- benefits cardiovascular system
- antioxidant protection at the cellular level
- anti-cancer benefits
- benefits for breast, colon, lung & prostate cancer
- digestive tract benefits
- optimizes the balance of bacteria in the digestive tract
- high in vitamin C and fiber
- low-calorie – only 45 calories per cup
- can kill the H. pylori bacteria
- may prevent tumors from growing rapidly or starting in the first place
- may help protect the brain from neurological damage
- anti-aging properties
Holiday Cranberry Sauce Recipe
Yields: 2 cups | Use organic ingredients when available.
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp minced orange zest
1/4 tsp cinnamon
12 oz bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 cup raw honey
Bring orange juice, ginger, zest, and cinnamon to a boil on high heat in a medium saucepan.
Rinse cranberries and add once the liquid is boiling.
Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes.
Add crushed pineapple and honey. Remove from heat and cool.
Recipe from www.whfoods.com
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