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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
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
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.
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:
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!
Jeannene Davis graduated from The University of Texas Houston Health Science Center with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics and followed the degree with a Certification in Adult Weight Management and Diabetes Education. She provides in-house support to physician offices and large scale support to corporations and small businesses to ensure their employees have the most current information about nutrition and wellness.
She's worked in hospitals, outpatient radiation clinics, gene therapy centers, and even insurance companies, focusing on health and wellness, diabetes, and herb and supplement education, as well as renal nutrition support to pre-dialysis, dialysis, and renal transplant patients for a variety of companies since 1993.