From the Thanksgiving dinner to your morning oatmeal, cranberries can be a common sight in meals. But have you ever thought about their health benefits? There are so many reasons why cranberries are good for you that it might be time to learn more about their positive impact on our health and get some ideas on how to incorporate them into your health journey!
Health Benefits of Cranberries
Cranberries are a fruit in the heather family, related to blueberries, bilberries and lingonberries. They can be eaten raw, although their natural flavor is quite tart and sour. Because fresh cranberries are somewhat of an acquired taste, people often consume sweeter options like cranberry juice and dried cranberries to add the health benefits of cranberries to their diets.
You may be wondering why cranberries appear to be grown in water. Contrary to popular belief, cranberries actually don’t grow in water. Cranberry bogs occur when farmers flood their cranberry fields to make for easier harvesting. Cranberries contain pockets of air that allow them to float in water. So, when farmers are ready to harvest them, they flood the fields, and the cranberries float at the top of the water.
Why Cranberries are Good for You
Cranberries are chock full of essential micronutrients, such as vitamins and fiber, that make them incredibly good for you. Cranberries are primarily composed of carbs, as are most fruits and vegetables. Also, they are a great source of fiber. Since only about 5% of Americans get the recommended daily value of fiber, adding a good fiber source like cranberries to your diet can come with many benefits!
Some may be wondering what the recommended way to eat cranberries is, and the answer is raw. Eating raw cranberries ensures the preservation of their nutritional value and associated health benefits. Although their sour flavor may be off-putting to some people, the health benefits of cranberries are best achieved by raw consumption.
Another reason why cranberries are good for you is they can help you protect against liver disease and improve eyesight and heart health. The list of the health benefits of cranberry juice continues because eating them can also keep your mouth healthy. Cranberry juice contains a chemical that prevents cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to your teeth and gums and causing issues like cavities and gum disease. Cranberries have also been shown to help prevent oral cancer.
What are the Health Benefits of Dried Cranberries
You may be wondering about the health benefits of dried cranberries as opposed to fresh cranberries. Although they lose a lot of their nutrients when dehydrated, dried cranberries are still a great source of potassium and calcium. They also maintain moderate levels of vitamins E and K. Dried cranberries can also improve your microbiome health as proanthocyanidin, one of the antioxidants contained in cranberries, has antimicrobial properties that help balance the helpful and harmful bacteria in your gut.
Craisins are dried cranberries with added sugar to counteract their naturally sour taste. Dried cranberries have more sugar than their fresh counterparts, so if you’re looking to maintain a healthy amount of sugar in your diet, opt for dried cranberries without or with low added sugars.
Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice
Although fresh cranberries are often considered the best way to enjoy their complete set of nutrients, you can also opt for cranberry juice.
Cranberry juice contains about 39% of your daily need of vitamin C in a single 8-ounce serving. Cranberry juice’s health benefits include a healthy vitamin and antioxidant intake, along with other micronutrients like copper, magnesium and potassium.
When picking up cranberry juice at the store, try to find a brand with 100% cranberry juice and a minimal amount of added sugar. Cranberry juice is sometimes mixed with sweeter juices to make it more flavorful but if you want to get the full health benefits of cranberry juice, stick to the full concentration.
How Can Cranberries Help UTIs?
One of the best health benefits of cranberries is the prevention of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), one of the most common bacterial infections, most often affecting women. Cranberries contain phytonutrients called A-type proanthocyanidins, which prevent the bacteria E. coli from attaching to the outer lining of the bladder and urinary tract.
Preventative healthcare is one of the best ways to save time and money in your health journey, so if you’re predisposed to UTIs, have gotten one in the past or simply want to reduce your chances of getting one in the future, consider adding some cranberries to your diet.
Eating cranberries while pregnant is a great way for soon-to-be mothers to ensure they’re getting enough healthy micronutrients while also protecting against UTIs. These infections can be common during pregnancy, so eating cranberries while pregnant is a great preventative and proactive healthcare choice.
A Parting Reminder
Cranberries are good for you and have a bunch of great health benefits. Adding them to your diet in salads or combining them with sweet fruit is a great way to tap into the health benefits of cranberries while neutralizing their extra tart flavor. Cranberries and pineapples are a great combo that packs a bunch of nutrients into your diet. They can be eaten raw, dried or in juice form, although the health benefits of cranberries will vary between these different forms.
Cranberries are good for your kidneys, help prevent UTIs and promote heart health by getting enough fiber and eating fruits. The high content of vitamins in them is one of the reasons why cranberries are so healthy for you. However, it is possible to overconsume them. Remember: cranberries are used in preventing UTIs, not treating them. If you think you may have a UTI or have any other health concerns, be sure to consult your primary care doctor for appropriate care and treatment.