Health benefits of cranberries
Delicious, tart cranberries have significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals called pro-anthocyanidins (PAC’s). Scientific studies have shown that consumption of berries have potential health benefits against cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections.
Antioxidant compounds in cranberries such as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC’s), anthocyanidin flavonoids, cyanidin, peonidin and quercetin may prevent cardiovascular disease by counteracting against cholesterol plaque formation in the heart and blood vessels. Further, these compounds help body lower LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL-good cholesterol levels in the blood.
Research studies shows that cranberry juice consumption offers protection against gram-negative bacterial infections such as E.coli in the urinary system by inhibiting bacterial attachment to the bladder and urethra.
Consumption of cranberries makes urine acidic. This, along with the bacterial anti-adhesion property of cranberry juice helps prevent formation of alkaline (calcium ammonium phosphate) stones in the urinary tract by working against proteus bacterial infections.
Further, the berries prevent plaque formation on the tooth surface by interfering with the ability of another gram-negative bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, to sticking on the surface. It thus helps prevent development of cavities in a way similar to the action in preventing urinary tract infections.
The berries are also good source of many vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin A, ß-carotene, lutein-zeaxanthin and folate and minerals like potassium, and manganese.
Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity or ORAC (measurement of antioxidant strength of food items) demonstrates cranberry with an ORAC score of 9,584 units per 100 g, one of the highest in edible fruits.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.13 g||<1%|
|Dietary Fiber||4.6 g||12%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.295 mg||6%|
|Vitamin A||60 IU||2%|
|Vitamin C||13.3 mg||22%|
|Vitamin E||1.20 mg||8%|
|Vitamin K||5.1 µg||4%|
Selection and storage
Fresh cranberries are available from October until December. In the store, choose berries that are bright red in color, plump, free from wrinkles with intact skin, firm to touch, without any cuts or cracks. Antioxidant pigments are largely concentrated in berries that feature deep red in color. Discard any wet, mottled ones, as they tend to spread the mold to rest others.
Fresh, as well as dried berries contain the most antioxidants while bottled cranberry drinks and cranberry cocktails with added sugars contain the least.
Fresh berries can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. Sort out any discolored, soft, shriveled or sticky fruits before storing. They have very short shelf life if kept at room temperature.
Cranberries contain oxalic acid, a naturally occurring substance found in some fruits and vegetables ( spinach, kale...), which may crystallize as oxalate stones in the urinary tract in some individuals. It is therefore, people with known history of oxalate urinary tract stones may not eat too much of these berries and, especially vegetables belonging to the brassica family. Adequate intake of water is therefore advised to maintain normal urine output.
Oxalic acids also interfere with the absorption of minerals like calcium and magnesium causing their deficiency.
Research studies have shown that cranberry juice potentiates the anticoagulant effect of warfarin. Some patients on warfarin therapy exhibited excessive bleeding in the organ system after they began to drink cranberry juice. It is therefore, patients using warfarin should be advised to avoid its juice.
Share this article