What Are the Health Benefits of Cranberries?
Cranberries are in an elite group of berries known as nature’s superfoods. Other berries in this category include blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, goji berries, bilberries, acai berries, and grapes. They have earned their reputation as a superfood because of their nutritional profile that includes low calories, low fat, high fiber, lots of vitamins, and lots of antioxidants.
Berries are some of the healthiest natural, whole foods in the world, and they are very easy to consume since they can be eaten whole and raw with little prep time. Of course, there are plenty of tasty things to make with cranberries and other berries as well!
The Cranberry’s Taste Before It’s Processed and Sweetened
Cranberries are tart, and that’s putting it mildly. They have a tangy, almost citrusy flavor, but most people do not appreciate the taste of raw, unsweetened cranberries. Most cranberries are consumed as juice (and sweetened), but they can also be dried (and sweetened), stewed (and sweetened), turned into relish (and sweetened), or baked in pies, cakes, or muffins (where they are, yes, sweetened).
The Benefits of Cranberries for Our Well-Being
Cranberries are packed full of polyphenols and other antioxidants, which protect against cell damage caused by free radicals. They are also high in vitamin C and manganese.
They are high in soluble fiber, which helps people feel full and helps slow the movement of food through the digestive tract. Soluble fiber also helps reduce the number of calories absorbed. All of this can contribute to weight loss and all the other benefits that come with maintaining a healthy weight.
Cranberries’ singular claim to fame, though, is how they can help prevent urinary tract infections. Chemical compounds in cranberries prevent the e. coli bacteria from adhering to the wall of the bladder or the urinary tract, and this reduces the risk of infection. In addition, cranberries are a diuretic, and frequent urination also reduces the risk of urinary tract infections.
Similarly, cranberries can help prevent h. pylori bacteria from sticking to the stomach wall. These bacteria can cause stomach ulcers and cancer, so keeping them moving along is a definite health benefit.
How Can Cranberries Boost the Immune System?
The polyphenols, anthocyanins, ellagic acid, resveratrol, and other antioxidants found in cranberries reduce oxidative stress and free radical damage to cells. Cranberries may also help reduce blood sugar and improve insulin response, thereby helping to ward off type 2 diabetes and/or complications of diabetes.
Cranberries and other berries also have significant anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is linked to conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other long-term health problems. Consuming cranberries has been shown to lower markers of inflammation.
Certain antioxidants in cranberries have been shown in animal and human studies to lower the risk of colon, mouth, breast, and esophageal cancer. Test-tube studies also suggest that they may reduce the risk of liver cancer.
What Is the Best Way to Eat or Drink Cranberries to Gain Their Health Benefits?
Most cranberries are consumed as juice, and as tasty as cranberry juice may be, it is not the healthiest way to enjoy cranberries. For one, cranberry juice tends to be very heavily sweetened, which counteracts some of the potential weight loss benefits of cranberries. Juicing cranberries also eliminates the soluble fiber that makes people feel full. It also, in almost all cases, removes the skin of the cranberry and that is where all the polyphenols are concentrated.
So, drinking cranberries as juice is clearly not the best way to take advantage of all the health benefits that they can offer. Cranberries can be stewed or turned into a salad or relish; as long as the whole fruit including the skin is used, you’ll get the full benefit of the cranberry.
Most people agree that cranberries need to be sweetened to be palatable. If you prepare the cranberries using other fruits as a sweetener, you won’t necessarily cut down on the calories but you will increase the health benefits of the dish that you are preparing.
Cranberries are a superfood packed with antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and other essential compounds. While that’s impressive enough on its own, cranberries can also lessen the risk of ulcers or urinary tract infections by preventing bacteria from attaching to the body.
┃🔴 Support our knowledge sharing on Patreon: https://bit.ly/3F80FdS