In the rush to embrace everything new and improved, we can often forget about the basic foods, fruits and vegetables that have been proven to benefit health in a variety of ways.
One superstar fruit that many people don’t know about is the cranberry. You might be aware of its delicious taste already, but did you know that cranberries are also packed with health-boosting antioxidants, essential vitamins and many more nutrients?
Even just a small serving of this super food can provide many benefits for your body and help to fight the effects of some diseases and free radical damage. If you haven’t yet considered upping your intake of this hidden health gem, now is the perfect opportunity to give your body a boost.
The origins of the cranberry
Cranberries originated from North America, where the Native Americans used them as a source of food. The berries were eaten both fresh and dried, while the leaves were used to make tea. Some tribes also smoked the leaves as a substitute for tobacco.
A mixture of cranberries, ground and dried deer meat with fat tallow called ‘pemmican’ was consumed as a source of protein and fat on long journeys. The food would be stored in animal skin pouches and the natural acidity in the fruit (along with the fat) helped to preserve it over the long months.
In addition to these culinary benefits, the Native Americans also used the cranberry to make dye for their textiles. It was a key ingredient for various medicinal purposes as well.
For example, cranberries were used as a laxative as well as in treatment for fever, stomach cramps and injuries associated with childbirth.
Cranberries are harvested most commonly using a ‘wet’ or ‘water harvest’ method, where water floods the beds and a special machine helps to dislodge the berries from their vines.
Small pockets of air inside the fruit ensure it floats up to the surface, where it can be gathered and taken away.
Otherwise, the ‘dry’ method involves the traditional picking process with a machine gathering fruit from the vine.
Super food credentials: Health benefits and nutrients
So what is it that makes cranberries such a super food? They may be small, but these little red berries pack a powerful punch when it comes to nutrient content.
That’s because the cranberry is a rich source of vitamins C and E as well as fibre. As you might know, vitamin C is a natural antioxidant, a substance that works to fight the effects of free radical damage to the cells.
Fibre is important in helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, while vitamin E is another antioxidant that may have a helping hand in boosting the immune function.
As well as these star ingredients, cranberries are also a great source of phytonutrients such as phenolic acids, anthocyanins, flavonoids and proanthocyanidins. Phytonutrients are naturally occurring plant chemicals that have been linked to anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and further antioxidant benefits.
In fact, the disease-fighting antioxidant content of cranberries is so powerful it pushes the cranberry above other fruits and vegetables including spinach, broccoli, strawberries and apples.
What health conditions can cranberry support?
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties and the health-boosting antioxidant effects, cranberries can aid in alleviating a number of health conditions.
In urinary tract infections (UTIs), the proanthocyanidins in cranberries helps to reduce the ability of bacteria to attach to the walls of urinary tract – aiding in fighting off the infection.
Those same proanthocyanidins can also have the same effect on bacteria in the mouth, helping to reduce the buildup of bacteria and the potential for dental decay and associated gum disease. Meanwhile, their anti-inflammatory properties and fibre content can help reduce blood pressure and as a result, work to prevent cardiovascular disease.
As with other fruits, cranberries retain the maximum amount of natural nutrients when they’re consumed fresh, as the heat of cooking can break down the antioxidants and vitamins.
You can freeze cranberries to eat later, and dried versions can also deliver a nutritional boost as long as they haven’t had a lot of sugar and preservatives added during the process.
With such a wide variety of vitamins and antioxidants in every serving, increasing your intake of cranberries could be one of the easiest ways to get a super sized helping of nutrients into your diet this summer.
Nutra-Life Cranberry 50,000 is for the relief of the pain and burning sensation associated with cystitis or urinary tract infection. This high-strength formula contains the equivalent of over 35 cranberries per capsule. Buy it now from our secure online shop.
We’d Love Your Feedback
Do you include cranberries in your diet? If so what form do you take them in; fresh, dried, juice, supplement or another way?
What benefits have you experienced?