Cranberries are known for their tartness and are commonly associated with the holiday celebrations. These acidic berries are rich in antioxidants and are known as super fruits. The health benefits of cranberries has further increased their popularity over the years, as they are now been incorporated into different recipes. Apart from been eaten fresh and raw, cranberries can also be produced into products such as jam, juice, sauce and can also be consumed in dried form.
What are the Health Benefits of Cranberries?
Cranberries are packed full of Vitamins, phytonutrients and minerals making it have several health benefits. Native Americans for example, have been known to use cranberries for the treatment of bladder and kidney disease. Cranberries offer some of the following health Benefits:
Fights cardiovascular disease
Cranberries contain polyphenols which helps to lower blood pressure, fights cardiovascular disease and also act as an anti-inflammatory agent. It’s antioxidant properties decreases the threat of atherosclerosis and delays and suppresses the oxidation of low-density and high-density lipoprotein (LDL and HDL) cholesterol.
Prevents Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
One of the most popular health benefits of eating cranberries is its ability to prevent urinary tract infections. It contains high levels of proanthocyanidins, an antioxidant that prevents bacteria from latching on to the urinary tract wall. This prevents them from multiplying faster and eventually flushing them out through urine.
The proanthocyanidins content of cranberries helps prevent cancer cells in the liver, prostrate, colon, breast, oral, lungs, ovary, and brain from spreading. Regular consumption of cranberries slow down the rapid growth of tumors.
Benefits dental health
The phytonutrient found in cranberries prevents bacteria from causing decay in the teeth thereby benefiting dental health. It also prevents against gum inflammation which will reduce the risk of periodontal disease.
Flavonoid rich foods like cranberries inhibits the growth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria which is the cause of peptic ulcer.
The anti-inflammatory properties of cranberries soothes inflammation, especially inflammation of the lungs, caused by the influenza virus. The nondialyzable material (NDM) present in the cranberries prevent influenza virus from sticking to the cells, hence preventing many infections. It can also help in soothing rheumatoid arthritis.
Prevents kidney stones
Cranberries contain quinic acid in high amounts which useful in the prevention of kidney stones.
Aids weight loss
It contains fiber which helps improve metabolism and digestion. Also, the organic acids in cranberries have an emulsifying effect on the body’s fat thereby aiding in weight loss.
Promotes hair growth
Cranberries contain Vitamin A and Vitamin C which promotes hair growth and prevents hair loss. Cranberries also helps in the prevention of dandruff and psoriasis due to its antifungal and antiseptic properties.
Free radicals present in the environment cause skin wrinkles and pigmentation. The antioxidants in cranberries reduces the damage caused by these free radicals and slows down the process of aging.
Fights common infections
The anti-inflammatory property of cranberries help to fight common infections like cold, flu, sore throat and also infections associated with the ear.
Scurvy results from the deficiency in Vitamin C. Cranberries contain high levels of Vitamin C which vital for the production of collagen and responsible for the healthy functioning of the body tissues.
Cranberries are rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant, which provides antiseptic properties and is very effective in eliminating acne and pimples.
Nutritional values of Cranberries
Cranberries are very rich in essential Vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Some of these Vitamins includes riboflavin, niacin, Pantothenic acid, Vitamins A, B6, C, E and K. They are a good source of potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, zinc, carbohydrates and proteins.
Cranberries contain anthocyanin flavonoids, polyphenols, cyanidin, peonidin, quercetin, tannins and salicylic acid. It also contains phytonutrients such as B-Carotene, B-Cryptoxanthin and Lutein-zeaxanthin. According to the USDA, one cup of cranberries contains 14% of your dietary fiber needs, 4% of your daily recommended carbs and only 45 calories. They also contain 87.13g of water per 100 g.
Although they can be consumed in different ways, the top health benefits of cranberries are best gotten when they are eaten fresh and whole since most of the store purchased cranberry sauces, jam and juices are made with sugars and preservatives. Even dried cranberries fall under this category, except you are making your own. It is also advisable not to consume cranberries excessively because they contain fructose, which may be harmful to the health when taken in excess.