Cranberries are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Like its cousin the blueberry, the cranberry is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and plant compounds that help the body function at peak levels.
Cranberries are famous for their medicinal properties. Typically consumed as a juice (the bitter taste of raw cranberries makes them unpalatable to most), they’ve been used for centuries as an American folk remedy.
In spite of that, researchers have only begun to explore the health potentials of these bitter little fruits. What they’ve found so far is promising, revealing that cranberries may help combat everything from urinary tract infections to ulcers.
Cranberry Nutrition Benefits
Cranberries are a rich source of many nutrients and antioxidants, including the following:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K1
Cranberry Health Benefits
Although research is still in its infancy, studies have shown that cranberries (particularly when eaten instead of diluted into juice), may be able to prevent or combat a number of conditions and diseases.
- Urinary Tract Infections: Research suggests cranberry juice may be effective against urinary tract infections. That’s because the condensed tannins in cranberries can bind to the bacteria escherichia coli (better known as e. coli), which is a leading cause of urinary infections. Although cranberry juice is not a useful treatment against infections, it can prevent them in the first place. Actual cranberries are even more effective than juice at protecting the urinary tract.
- Ulcers and Stomach Cancer: Other studies suggest that cranberry juice can mitigate the risk of ulcers and stomach cancer. A unique plant compound in cranberries has the ability to attach to the bacteria pylori (a leading cause of both ulcers and stomach cancers) and prevent it from binding to the lining of the stomach.
- Dental Plaque and Periodontal Disease: At least one compound in cranberries may prevent the formation of dental plaque. Promising studies have already inspired companies to start developing mouthwashes containing cranberry extract.
- Bad Cholesterol: Preliminary research shows that a daily dose of cranberry juice can reduce LDL cholesterol levels while raising HDL cholesterol levels.
- Cancer and Heart Disease: Cranberries are full of important antioxidants, from Vitamin C to Quercetin. Antioxidants bind to free radicals, which damage to the body’s cells. Unchecked, free radicals can potentially lead to premature aging, heart disease, and even cancer. While everything from UV light to tobacco smoke can increase the number of free radicals in the body, the antioxidants in cranberries have the ability to neutralize them, preventing long-term cell damage.
All told, cranberry vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can help the body fight off diseases caused by bacteria and free radicals. Chock-full of important nutrients, cranberries are ideal for health-conscious eaters. Finally, since cranberry calories are almost non-existent, they’re great additions to almost any diet.