Cranberries! They go with just about anything: other fruits, vegetables, meats, starches. And don’t forget adding them to your NutriBlast smoothies! The options are endless.
Raw cranberries give us the most benefits, but there are no limits to what you can do with them. Whether raw, cooked, dried, canned, powdered, juiced, or encapsulated, cranberries can provide us with plenty of health benefits. The goal is to optimize these benefits and enjoy having them all year long.
Health Benefits of Cranberries
- Cranberries can help prevent not only urinary tract infections, but also, potentially, stomach ulcers. This is great news for those who are fighting the bacteria, H. pylori.
- Many studies found that cranberries have outstanding anti-cancer properties, especially against cancers in the breast, colon, lung, and prostate. There is no evidence that cranberries can fight the cancer once it takes hold, but they can aid in preventing some cancers.
- Thanks to the sun exposure and water-harvesting methods of cranberries in North America, we are seeing large amounts of anthocyanin from their radiant red skins. These antioxidants help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as some cancers by removing free radicals that can damage the cells in our bodies.
- Cranberries are anti-inflammatories, not just because they contain salicylate (found in aspirin), but because they display a wide array of other properties that allow them to ward off inflammation of the mouth, gums, stomach, large intestine, and cardiovascular system.
- They can reduce the incidence rate of kidney stones, specifically those made of uric acid. However, cranberries should be avoided by individuals with stones caused by excess calcium, phosphorus, oxalate, or magnesium.
A new study featured on the Cranberry Institute and presented by Dr. Arpita Basu showed great promise, suggesting that cranberries are capable of “…influencing carbohydrate metabolism in many ways, such as helping to control postprandial and fasting blood glucose for those with diabetes.” Although more research needs to be done on this topic before anything is determined for human use, the prospect of improving the lives of people with diabetes is exciting!
Warnings before Consuming Cranberries
- Those on warfarin (blood thinner) are encouraged to avoid cranberries and foods or drinks containing cranberries. In some cases, individuals who consumed cranberry juice while on warfarin experienced uncontrolled bleeding. Studies on this reaction are still ongoing so it is best to check with your primary doctor before making any dietary changes that could interfere with your medications.
- Cranberries contain salicylic acid, a metabolite of aspirin. The exact amount varies, but in a controlled study, individuals who consumed cranberry juice showed increased levels of salicylic acid in their urine within a week and in their blood within two weeks.
- Avoid cranberries if you are prone to kidney stones caused by an excess of calcium with either oxalate or phosphate, or magnesium.
Whole cranberries offer more benefits than just components or pieces of the cranberry. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” Aristotle said. This means that dried powders and juices rarely give us the same benefits that whole cranberries do.
However, don’t let that stop you from enjoying cranberries in their many delicious forms! There are plenty of ways to add cranberries to your diet so that you can benefit from their nutrients.
Here are useful measurements for cooking with cranberries:
- A 12-oz bag of cranberries = approximately 3 cups of berries
- A 12-oz bag of cranberries = approximately 2 1/4 cups of “chopped” berries
- One serving = 1/2 cup fresh berries
- One serving = 1/4 cup dried berries
- One serving = 3/4 cup 100 percent cranberry juice
Approximately 1500 grams (3.3 pounds) of fresh fruit can produce one liter of juice. Cranberry juice cocktail contains approximately 26 percent to 33 percent pure cranberry juice. Just be aware of excessive sugars and artificial sweeteners!
Cranberries can be enjoyed in a drink over ice, in a spritzer, or in a refreshing nutribullet concoction. Add them to your favorite salads. Dry or freeze them to better suit your needs. However you choose to enjoy your cranberries, make sure you enjoy them all year long!