The Health Benefits of Cranberries

Food as Medicine

cranberriesCranberries are tart little globes of goodness that have been used for food, medicine, and even dyes for centuries. They are considered by many to be a superfood and are loaded with high nutrient and antioxidant content. In other words, they worth-while health boosters. Right now, cranberries are in season. So, if you’re looking for a reason to indulge in these sour berries, check out these health benefits of cranberries.

  • Cranberries are an amazing source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. It is able to help protect the body from damage by free radicals and also able to bolster immune function and protect against infections. According to Medical News Today, sailors once carried  cranberries on their voyages to ward off scurvy.
  • Vitamin E, vitamin K, manganese and other phytonutrients provide additional benefits. These help make cranberries a powerful anti-inflammatory food able to fight and prevent cancer.
  • Though cranberries have much to offer, one of the most common medicinal uses of cranberries is in the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections. They are especially useful for people who have recurrent UTIs. This is because they have a high level of proanthocyanidins, which reduce the number of bacteria that adhere to urinary tract walls.
  • They are also useful at preventing cardiovascular disease. It is believed cranberries do this by preventing the build-up of platelets and reducing blood pressure through anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Oral and digestive health can be improved by cranberries in the same ways that UTIs are prevented—using proanthocyanidins. These compounds prevent bacteria from sticking to teeth and can work to prevent gum disease as well. According to LiveScience, they can also fight H. pylori, a bacteria implicated in peptic ulcers in the digestive system.
  • Some research even shows cranberries to be effective in slowing tumor progression and fighting breast, ovarian, colon, prostate and liver cancers.

Not sure how to enjoy the health benefits of cranberries without buying a canned, high-sugar sauce? Use them dry and unsweetened in trail mixes and oatmeals. Cook them with wild rice or in a sweet potato dish. You can freeze them for use in sauces and can also use them in a variety of breads, muffins, and other baked goods. Or, just eat them straight!