Cranberries – a Superfood You Never Really Considered

Most women think that cranberries are useful only for helping eradicate or prevent UTI infections.  But the health benefits of cranberries are far more wide-ranging and even a tad surprising.

Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is a small round red colored fruit which is native to America.  It typically grows in bogs.  If you’ve ever been in Nantucket you may have seen its extensive bogs.  Nantucket is home to some of the largest contiguous cranberry bogs in the world where cranberries have been grown since 1857. American cranberry is one of the only three species of fruit native to North America. The other species are blueberry and bilberry.  Cranberry gets its name from “crane-berry” because its stem and flower resemble the head, neck, and beak of a crane.

Cranberries are high in vitamin C and fiber and only 45 calories per cup. In disease-fighting antioxidants, cranberries outrank nearly every fruit and vegetable–including strawberries, spinach, broccoli, red grapes, apples, raspberries, and cherries.   They have strong antibacterial effects in the body and eating cranberries prevents viruses and bacteria from attaching itself to the body.  Something else to think about before sleeping with someone you don’t know well! (While women often drink unsweetened cranberry juice to treat an infection, there’s no hard evidence that works.) The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding research on the cranberry’s effects on heart disease, yeast infections and other conditions, and other researchers are investigating its potential against cancer, stroke and viral infections.

One cup of whole cranberries has 8,983 total antioxidant capacity. Only blueberries can top that: Wild varieties have 13,427; cultivated blueberries have 9,019. Continue reading

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