Cranberries are a traditional part of the holiday season. From sauces, to stuffing, to cocktails, cranberries abound. However, cranberries aren’t just a seasonal delicacy they come with a number of benefits to your health that make them a nutritious addition to your diet all year long.
Here are 10 health benefits of cranberries:
- Loaded with the antioxidant Vitamin C, cranberries help fight free radicals to keep you looking young and to reduce stress on your body. Vitamin C also strengthens the immune system keeping you healthy and happy.
- Cranberries are high in fiber. Fiber is important for digestive health, reducing heart disease as well as controlling diabetes and obesity.
- The most common use of cranberries for medicinal purposes is to treat urinary tract infections. Cranberries have a high level of proanthocyanidins which keep infection causing bacteria from adhering to the walls of the bladder and urethra.
- Cranberries fight heart disease. Cranberries have a compound that help prevent the build up of plaque in the arteries and can help lower cholesterol levels thereby reducing your risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Cranberry, the cancer fighter. Recent research studies have shown that cranberries can slow down the growth of cancer cells of several types of cancer including breast, ovarian, liver, prostate and lung.
- Protect against tooth and gum problems by adding cranberries to your diet. The proanthocyanidins in cranberries can help prevent the build up of bacteria on the teeth keeping the teeth and gums healthy.
- Cranberries can help prevent some stomach ulcers by fighting the H. pylori bacteria that causes peptic ulcers.
- Not only do cranberries contain high levels of vitamin C but they also contain other powerful antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin E, flavonoids and polyphenols. This mix of antioxidants can help build collagen, support hair growth, strengthen the immune system, and aid memory and cognition.
- Cranberries can help you lose weight. The antioxidants in cranberries also protect the internal organs and help them work more efficiently which can result in a higher metabolism and increased ability to burn fat and the fiber in cranberries can keep you feeling fuller longer all of which can lead to weight loss.
- Beat colds and the flu with cranberries. The various vitamins and phytonutrients in cranberries boost T-cell production which help the immune system fight off colds, flu and even pneumonia. In addition, cranberries can help lessen the intensity of flu symptoms.
These are just a few of the health benefits associated with cranberries. But, before you run out and buy a cranberry bog there are a few more things you should know:
- Cranberries may interfere certain heart medications and blood thinners so talk to your doctor and use caution before adding cranberries to your diet.
- Cranberries can increase blood sugar especially if ingested as a juice. If your diabetic you may want to start slowly when adding cranberries to your diet plan and monitor your blood sugar. If you are in doubt check with your doctor.
- Cranberries have been known to cause stomach discomfort in some people.
- Cranberry juices, dried cranberries and many store bought sauces contain high amounts of sugar which can negate the benefits of the berries so stick with fresh or frozen cranberries.
Now that you know the benefits here are a few ways to add cranberries to your diet:
- -Add dried cranberries to oatmeal, trail mix, and baked goods like muffins and quick breads.
- -Sprinkle over salads.
- -Add cranberries to rice and quinoa dishes for added flavor.
- -You can use dried cranberries to replace raisins or other dries fruit in recipes.
Make your own dried cranberries using this simple recipe:
Homemade Dried Cranberries
12oz fresh cranberries, rinsed
2 quarts water
-Place cranberries in a large bowl and cover with 2 quarts boiling water.
-Let the berries sit until the skin pops.
-Drain the berries, pat them dry and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
-Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 2 hours.
-Heat the oven to 350° for 10-15 minutes.
-Remove the cranberries from the freezer, transfer to another cookie sheet, and place in the oven.
-Turn the oven off and leave the cranberries to dry for 10-12 hours. Avoid opening the oven to retain heat.
-Dried cranberries should be soft and chewy like a raisin
-Place frozen berries in a single layer on the mesh tray of a dehydrator and dry for 12-16 hours. Remember to use the lowest heat setting possible to preserve the nutrients in the cranberries.
-Once the cranberries are dried place separate into 1/4 cup servings and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freezer.
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