Sour to the taste, but providing sweet health benefits, cranberries provide a great defense against heart disease, urinary tract infections and cancer.
Cranberries are commonly used in desserts, sauces and beverages, but to get the full benefits of this power-packed fruit, forego those sugary concoctions and eat the fruit itself. Read on to see what else makes cranberries so special.
Inside the Cranberry
Cranberries contain a good amount of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as small amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin K. Cranberries are an excellent source of polyphenol antioxidants and flavonoids like quercetin and proanthocyanidins.
What’s So Great About Cranberries?
Heart Protection – Cranberries work hard to protect the heart, and they have all the right ingredients to do so. The flavonoids in cranberries help to keep arteries dilated and free of plaque buildup from bad LDL cholesterol that can eventually lead to heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Cranberries have lots of fiber, which also keeps cholesterol levels down.
The potassium in cranberries keeps blood pressure under control, while vitamin C also stops the buildup of cholesterol on the artery walls. Sugar-free cranberry juice is as potent and effective as red wine at protecting the heart without the alcohol content, so the usual one or two glasses a day will work wonders for your health.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Stopper – Certain flavonoids in cranberries have nonstick qualities that prevent bacteria from building up on the interior walls of the stomach and urinary tract. As a result, bacteria pass through the urinary tract and bacterial infections do not occur. This is the cranberry’s single most powerful characteristic – the ability to counteract bacteria buildup in the body.
People who regularly drink cranberry juice will also have fewer bladder issues, and elderly people especially can benefit from the fact that cranberries stop UTIs since they are more likely to have a UTI and more frequently than most people.
Ulcer Prevention – Since cranberry flavonoids keep bacteria from attaching to the inside of the stomach, they consequently keep ulcers from forming there as well.
Cancer Blocker – Studies have shown that the mix of antioxidants, as well as the high amount of vitamin C, in cranberries helps to keep cancer at bay and kill any present cancers, especially cancer of the breast, colon, lung, bladder, throat and stomach. Antioxidants also help to repair and renew cells and get rid of faulty cells that could cause cancer or other types of diseases down the road.
Gum Disease Prevention – Chemical compounds in cranberries prevent bacteria from binding together and attaching themselves to the inside of the mouth, which keeps plaque buildup down. Plaque buildup is generally what causes gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath, so eating fresh cranberries or drinking sugar-free cranberry juice is a great defense mechanism against these issues.