The Health Benefits of Cranberries

What's small, dark red, and makes you pucker? The tart and tangy cranberry.  

Cranberries are rich in vitamin C, manganese, fiber, and a good source of vitamin K. One cup of fresh whole cranberries provides 46 calories, 22 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin C, 18 percent of your daily needs for fiber and manganese as well as 6 percent of your daily value of vitamin K. 

Cranberries are loaded with antioxidant phytonutrients, which are plant-based chemicals that fight against disease and insects and help protect your body's cells against damage. Cranberries boast an average ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score of 9,584 while that of blueberries is approximately 6,552. ORAC is a test used to measure a food's antioxidant levels. The higher the ORAC score, the better.

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According to a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, cranberries contain a greater amount of antioxidant phenols than 19 commonly eaten fruits. These compounds are able to fight an array of harmful bacteria and viruses in your body. Additionally, these antioxidant phytonutrients may protect against oxidative stress-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and cognitive disorders. Research has also shown that they have the ability to protect cells from certain cancers such as breast, skin, colon, prostate, lung, brain and oral.    

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Cranberries may also prevent the formation of kidney stones, promote gastrointestinal and oral health, lower LDL and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, and aid in stroke recovery, according to recent scientific research.  

Fresh and frozen cranberries contain the greatest quantities of antioxidants compared to their dried, juiced and canned cousins. Most cranberries are harvested between September and October and, therefore, fresh cranberries can only be found in stores from October through December. Fortunately, fresh cranberries store well when packaged in an air-tight container or freezer storage bags. Store them in the refrigerator for several months or the in freezer for several years.   

Cranberries add color and taste to a variety of foods and pair well with cinnamon, nutmeg, oranges, orange juice, orange zest, pears, apples, walnuts and pecans. Sprinkle dried cranberries in yogurt, cereal or salads, and add them to baked goods. Make your own cranberry sauce this holiday season and reap the health benefits of this amazing crimson fruit. Check out www.fitnutrition.net for tasty and healthy cranberry recipes.  

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