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Are You Crazy For Cranberries?

Did you know that cranberries are very nutritious

The holiday season is approaching and fresh, frozen and canned cranberries take a prominent display position in the supermarkets.  Did you know that researchers are now classifying cranberries as a super phytonutrient fruit right up there with blueberries?  So if you are not crazy about cranberries, maybe this blog will entice you to develop craziness for cranberries.  Read more to learn about how cranberries prevent urinary tract infections, stomach ulcers, and various cancers!

Where do cranberries come from?

Cranberries are native to North America.  American cranberries were enjoyed by American Indians and cooked and sweetened with honey or maple syrup.  It is believed that this cranberry sauce recipe was a likely treat at early New England Thanksgiving feasts.   In the beginning of the 18th century the colonists began exporting these red berries to England.

The Indians developed multiple uses for cranberries.  Due to their red color they were used a decorative food, as a source of red dye, and, medicinally as a poultice for wounds.  The Cranberry contains astringent tannins which contract tissues and helped stop bleeding.  It is now believed that compounds in cranberries have antibiotic effects.

Why are fresh cranberries only in stores during the holiday season?

Cranberries are harvested between Labor Day and Halloween and appear in stores between October and December.   Cranberries are grown in bogs and are water harvested.  Research has shown that the phytonutrients that give the berries their amazing red color and provides us with the strong health benefit is due to the increased sunlight the berries are exposed to while floating on top of the water.  Cranberries that are exposed to greater amounts of natural sunlight, increases the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of anthocyanin’s found in the berry.  When shopping for fresh cranberries, pick the ones that are deep red and plump.

photo-blog-cranberriesWhat is the real nutritional story behind this berry?

According to the web site, “nutrition-and-you.com” cranberries have the following benefits:  “Delicious, tart cranberries hold significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals called pro-anthocyanidins (PAC’s). Scientific studies have shown that consumption of berries have potential health benefits against cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections.

Antioxidant compounds in cranberries such as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC’s), anthocyanidin flavonoids, cyanidin, peonidin and quercetin may prevent cardiovascular disease by counteracting against cholesterol plaque formation in the heart and blood vessels. Further, these compounds help the human body lower LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL-good cholesterol levels in the blood.

Research studies show that cranberry juice consumption offers protection against gram-negative bacterial infections such as E.coli in the urinary system by inhibiting bacterial-attachment to the bladder and urethra.

  • Consumption of cranberries turns urine acidic. This, together with the inhibition of bacterial adhesion property of cranberry juice, helps prevent the formation of alkaline (calcium ammonium phosphate) stones in the urinary tract by working against proteus bacterial-infections.
  • Further, the berries prevent plaque formation on the tooth enamel by interfering with the ability of another gram-negative bacterium, Streptococcus mutans, to stick to the surface. It thus helps prevent development of cavities in a way similar to preventing urinary tract infections.
  •  In addition, the berries are also good source of many vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin A, ß-carotene, lutein, zea-xanthin, and folate and minerals like potassium, and manganese.
  • Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity or ORAC (measurement of antioxidant strength of food items) demonstrates cranberry at an ORAC score of 9584 µmol TE units per 100 g, one of the highest in the category of edible berries.”

Historically, cranberries have been used as an excellent source of vitamin C.

One-half cup of fresh cranberries contains 11% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C with only 23 calories.  American whalers and mariners carried cranberries on their voyages to prevent scurvy.

So this holiday season, develop a craziness for cranberries!

Enjoy the many foods with cranberries, and let your body do the rest with creating a healthier you!

Links

Cranberries.org
History of Cranberries

University of Wisconsin-Madison
American Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)

Wikipedia.org
Cranberry

apsnet.org
Cranberries: The Most Intriguing Native North American Fruit

University of Maine
Cranberry Facts and History

uscranberries.com
Cranberry History

University of Massachusetts
How Cranberries Grow

nutrition-and-you.com
Cranberries nutrition facts

whfoods.com
What’s New and Beneficial About Cranberries

Helen Trowsdale, President of AA Care Services, is a nurse administrator with over 30 years of experience as a BSN, psychiatric nurse, and geriatric care manager with adults as well as pediatrics in hospitals, private duty home health care agencies, and residential home health care. Her team of caregivers are dedicated to serving their clients with home care in San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Austin; providing clients with consistent, quality care while minimizing the number of caregivers in the home. Learn more about AA Care Services.

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