Cranberries are the tiny red jewels of the berry world and are an extremely popular super berry. Many people consider the small and sharp-tasting cranberry to be a fantastic superfood, and this is because they have high nutritional content and are packed with antioxidants.t
Cranberries, or Vaccinium subg. Oxycoccus are native to areas of North America and grow extensively in cultivated farmland across the northern areas of America, as well as in areas of Canada.
Cranberries are ruby-red berries originating from the heather family. They are closely linked to their purple and slightly bigger counterpart, the blueberry.
Cranberries are not just for Thanksgiving!
Although some people only consider cranberries as a seasonal addition to a Thanksgiving dinner, there are some incredible benefits to be had when you consume them at all other points in the year.
The 2 very common ways of consuming cranberries are in a sauce, which is often served with thanksgiving dinner to accompany white meats such as turkey or juice. Cranberry juice can be made fresh or purchased in ready-made cartons for instant consumption. We will look further into cranberry juice here.
The cranberry has a very sharp and sour flavor when they are raw, so it’s not advised to consume them without cooking them first! And apart from the uses mentioned earlier, cranberries can also be consumed in many other ways, such as dry as a snack, in cookies, stuffing, and as part of a muesli mix.
Cranberries are most often consumed as juice, which can be really simple to make at home, where you can sweeten the sharpness naturally. This juice can be beneficial to health when consumed as part of a holistically healthy diet.
The Superfood Benefits Of Cranberries
Cranberries are known to be incredibly rich in vitamins and minerals, and because those essential dietary compounds are all packed into such a small berry in abundance, they are considered one of the most super berries of all!
The composition of 100g of fresh cranberries will provide you with carbohydrates from the natural sugars (yes, they may be sour in flavor, but they do synthesize natural sugars!), fiber, and an abundance of water to go along with your antioxidants.
The primary nutrients you will find in a cup of raw cranberries are:
- Approximately 45 calories
- Almost 90% of water
- Under 1g of protein grams
- A significant amount of carbohydrates at around 12-13g
- 4g of natural sugars
- Almost 5g of insoluble fiber
- Very little fat a 0.1 g per 100g
Cranberries are also abundant in insoluble fibers, including:
- Pectin, which can be really helpful when making jams or deserts that require” setting.”
- Cellulose, which contributes to the outer layer but also stores the glucose
- Hemicellulose, which gives the cranberry its tough exterior
However good this may sound, you have to remember that Cranberries also have soluble fiber as part of their composition, so excessive consumption may cause digestive issues and complaints, including cramps and diarrhea.
Vitamins and Minerals In Cranberry Juice
When they are juiced, Cranberries can obviously reduce their potency when it comes to vitamin and mineral levels. However, the juice does remain with a rich source of several of the best vitamins and minerals that can be found in any good food.
You will find that cranberry juice has:
- Vitamin C. (which is also known as ascorbic acid) is one of the prominent vitamins classed as an antioxidant that has a starring role in cranberry juice. It is an essential vitamin beneficial for the healthy maintenance of your skin, bones, and muscles.
- Manganese is a base mineral that can be found in many foods and is essential for optimum growth and maintaining a healthy metabolism.
- Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) is an essential vitamin that is responsible for optimum blood clotting.
- Copper is something that is often lacking in modern diets. Still, it can actually help in the maintenance of a healthy heart.
So as you can see, many beneficial vitamins and minerals can be found in cranberry juice, which, when consumed in combination with a really healthy diet and lifestyle, can be incredibly helpful to health.
But what ailments and specific matters of health will consuming cranberry juice help with?
Prevention of Urinary Tract Infections
Infections of the urinary tract are incredibly common, especially in the female population. They can cause pain, discomfort, and irregular and painful urination.
UTIs are classified as bacterial infections and can affect all ages but are most prevalent in women who are going through some form of hormonal change, such as menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause.
Clinical trials in women who have recurrent UTIs have shown that drinking cranberry juice can reduce the frequency and prevalence of UTIs over 12 months.
Heart disease is a condition that takes many lives all over the world. Heart Disease is researched to be one of the leading health consequences of modern-day diets that are for convenience but also high in fat, sugar, and salt, with very few nutritional benefits.
Cranberry juice contains many antioxidants that may be beneficial in the maintenance of a healthy heart, including:
In human studies, cranberry juice has been shown to be beneficial for various elements of optimum heart health, including:
- Increasing HDL levels, which is known as the good cholesterol
- Protective factors over the bad cholesterol, inhibiting it from oxidizing.
- Lowering the levels of LDL, which is the bad cholesterol, especially in those who have diabetes
- It can assist in lowering blood pressure.
- A decrease in the tautness of the blood vessels in those people who have been diagnosed as having heart disease.
- Reducing the additional risks of developing inflammation within the blood vessels in people who have been diagnosed with heart disease.
Prevention of Stomach Cancer and Ulcers
This is a super essential but super clever point to understand about cranberry juice!
Stomach cancer is way more common than you think, and it has a high mortality rate that is echoed all over the world.
The bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is considered a substantial contributing factor to developing stomach conditions such as cancer, inflammation in the stomach, and stomach ulcers.
This is where the clever cranberry juice powers come in! Cranberries have a unique plant-orientated compound found naturally in them called A-type proanthocyanidins, which may be a factor in reducing stomach cancer risks.
The compound may prevent the H Pylori from welding itself to your stomach lining and stomach wall, thus reducing the risks of it becoming something more sinister.
Does Cranberry Juice Do Any Harm?
Cranberries juice is ordinarily safe for a majority of people, as long as it is consumed in moderation and always alongside a healthy diet and an active lifestyle.
An 8oz (half a pint) glass is more than adequate daily; any more than this can result in stomach upsets, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.
They always say that too much of a good thing can spoil the effects, which is definitely true for cranberry juice.
Cranberry juice can also exacerbate existing kidney stones and increase the chances of developing them (especially if you are predisposed to them usually)
Kidney stones can be excruciating, especially when they are passed naturally.
Preparation Of Fresh Cranberries
As we have mentioned, it’s probably not the best idea to eat cranberries in a fresh format. The red berries may be small, but they can pack a punch of sourness the minute you pop them in your mount, so it’s best to avoid doing that!
There are many ways you can prepare cranberries, but here is a simple guide on how to get the red jewel berries from tart to tasteful quite quickly!
How To Make Cranberry Juice:
- Sort the berries out once collected and discard any that are soft to touch or spoiled.
- Rinse the berries under cool running water until the water runs clear
- Pop the berries in a saucepan and add sugar and water
- Bring the berry mixture to a rolling boil and allow to cook without covering them up for 4-5 minutes.
- Stir the cranberries occasionally, and you will see the mixture become foamy.
- The cranberries will pop when they are heated this way, and once the popping stops, they are to be removed from the direct heat and allowed to cool at room temperature.
- When the cranberries have cooled, pop a cover on them and refrigerate.
Once you have sufficiently cooled the mix, you can strain the mixture through some fine muslin for some instant first cranberry juice daily.
You can, of course, make a cranberry sauce, which is really simple to do. Here’s how!
Cranberry sauce recipe
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 cup of water
- 12-oz. of fresh cranberries
- 2 tsp. Of orange zest
- Pinch of Kosher salt
In a saucepan placed over low heat, combine the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Add your cranberries and cook until they pop and burst for around 10 minutes.
You can then stir in the orange zest and a pinch of the kosher salt and mix thoroughly.
Remove the pan from the direct heat and let the mixture cool completely. You can then transfer it to a jar or container and pop it in the refrigerator.
The Cranberry sauce can safely be made up to 7 days in advance.
There are so many antioxidant benefits to having a small amount of cranberries in juice format daily.
The drink can be beneficial to helping resist recurrent UTIs. It can also support the maintenance of a healthy gut and heart.
The small red berries are jam-packed with so many vitamins and minerals that are incredibly beneficial to health. They are also a really versatile superfood to incorporate into any healthy diet and lifestyle regime.
While you can find these berries growing abundantly over North America in the wild and on land where they are cultivated, you can also find their benefits in pre-made juice as well as dietary supplements in capsules.
Cranberries have a tart taste, so it’s always best to cook them before consumption. Be aware of consuming them in excess to avoid stomach complaints or if you are predisposed to kidney stones, as cranberries or cranberry juice may exacerbate such conditions.
All in all, enjoy the cranberry and relish it is superfood powers for a healthy addition to your already healthy lifestyle!