In general, consuming a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables in one of the healthiest things you can do for your body. However, as with most things, some stand out more than others. And in the food world, one of the winter season’s most nutritional and dynamic options is the cranberry.
Cranberry Health and Nutrition Facts
Some of the many benefits this tiny red fruit offers include:
- Heart Health: Cranberries are good for the heart! With all the antioxidants, resveratrol, anti-inflammatories and anti-clotting agents, fat and cholesterol have a hard time sticking to the arteries. This lowers LDL and raises HDL cholesterols.
- Oral Health: Each sip of 100%, no-sugar-added cranberry juice makes your mouth a healthier place, too. The juice has compounds that reduce bacteria that cause decay and rid your mouth of germs.
- Cancer Protection: Again, the antioxidants and resveratrol make this a positive force in your fight to reduce certain cancers.
- Avoid Ulcers: Thanks to the cranberry’s natural inclination to fight bacteria, you’ll have less ulcer-causing bacterias lurking in your stomach, as well as keep your entire digestive tract free of unwanted bacteria.
- Prevent UTIs: Stop a urinary tract infection before it starts, or start recovering from one naturally, by drinking 100% cranberry juice.
- Fight Colds: Try fresh-squeezed cranberry juice to prevent the sniffles.
If the cranberry included a nutrition label, it would have to start by stating its position as a super food, and would then mention these important nutrients:
- Antioxidants: You’ll find more of these disease-fighting molecules packed into the tiny cranberry than you will in larger fruits like apples, red grapes, strawberries, bananas or oranges.
- Resveratrol: This particular antioxidant has gotten a lot of attention this year for findings that link it to anti-aging, heart health and even reducing cancer risks.
- Vitamins: Cranberries are a generous source of Vitamin C, which can help fight colds, and Vitamin K, necessary for calcium absorption.
- Minerals: A generous source of manganese, which can help fight fatigue and improve memory, as well as potassium and calcium.
- Dietary Fiber: An ideal source of dietary fiber, which promotes digestive health.
- Low Calorie: A one-cup serving of fresh cranberries yields only 44 calories.
How to and Not to Eat Cranberries
As with any fruit, you’ll always reap more nutritional benefits by consuming the whole fruit, rather than a variation. That’s why you want to seek out the freshest cranberries possible, no matter how you plan to serve them.
- DO buy local, fresh cranberries (in season October-December)
- DO buy frozen cranberries with little to no additives
- DO prepare them, juice them or eat them whole
- DO eat dried cranberries as a snack, but watch for additives like sugar or high fructose corn syrup
- DON’T use canned or jellied cranberry sauces, which can yield more sugar than a candy bar!
- DON’T drink juices without reading the label to ensure it’s 100% cranberry juice
- DON’T forget a single serving of cranberries is one cup, or 3.4 ounces