Crushing on Cranberries


December 5, 2012

Care of Laura Wright

cramberriesPlump and tart, cranberries are synonymous with fall. Along with apples, root veggies, pumpkins, pears and squash, their deep burgundy hue points to cooler days, warm sweaters and falling leaves. I see plenty of recipe applications using the sweetened dried version of these antioxidant powerhouses, but fresh ones? They’re less commonly used and possibly under-appreciated for sure. I thought they deserved some love so I provoked their sour sweetness in a decadent (but still wholesome) breakfast treat.

Other than providing a gorgeous and healthy topping for spicy and intense pancakes, cranberries certainly have a lot of great attributes going for them.

Some Back Story: Cranberry bushes are native to eastern regions of Canada and the United States. They have a long history of medicinal use in Native American populations ranging from prevention of kidney stones to the belief that ingestion of the berries purified the blood. Additionally, a paste made from cranberries was applied to the skin as a healing salve to treat arrow wounds. It is one of three fruits that can trace its roots specifically to North American soil (blueberries and concord grapes are the other two).

Sniffles? Take some Vitamin C(ranberry): There’s a dazzling array of antioxidants found exclusively in whole cranberries. The special combination within these tiny berries is certainly unique. Three particular antioxidant nutrients (resveratrol, piceatannol, and pterostilbene) contained within is what makes cranberries such an immunity-protecting powerhouse. These phytonutrients provide more antioxidant benefits specifically when consumed in combination with each other, and even more so when consumed alongside nutrients present in cranberry like manganese and vitamin C. Eat them whole and fend off those sniffles with ease.

It’s Antibacterial! Cranberry juice and urinary tract health is an ages old combination, sure. But their antibacterial growth powers extend far beyond just that. Stomach ulcers are often traced to overgrowth and over-linking of one particular type of stomach-residing bacteria to the stomach lining. Research has found that consumption of cranberries may help prevent the linking of this bacteria to the stomach lining, much in the same way it helps prevent bacterial growth/attachment in the urinary tract.

Filed under: Eat Veg elifelines Food of the Month Nutrition