This National Eat a Cranberry Day, it’s time to celebrate the powerful benefits of cranberries. For their tiny size, they pack in an impressive amount of nutrients, from antioxidants to fibre, vitamins and minerals – there are more than a few reasons to add these humble berries to your morning bowl of oats. Here are 3 things we love about cranberries.
Cranberries have long been hailed as a powerful urinary tract infection (UTI) preventative food, and considering UTIs are one of the most commonly reported bacterial infections, it doesn’t hurt to have some protection up your sleeve. The common culprit for UTIs incudes E.coli, and cranberries happen to be loaded with what are known as A-type proanthocyanidins – a type of phytonutrient – which work to stop E.coli from attaching to the bladder and urinary tract lining, hence preventing an infection. Numerous studies have found drinking cranberry supplements or juice to significantly reduce the risk for these infections, with research finding it particularly beneficial in preventing recurrent UTIs. However, some heavily-processed cranberry products may lose these essential benefits, so it’s important to either obtain fresh cranberries or fresh-juiced cranberries rather than those that have undergone heating or had additives included in the product. Supplements may also be a reliable source of these phytonutrients if you’re looking to prevent future UTIs.
It’s worth noting that cranberries haven’t been found successful in treating these infections, rather that they’re better suited for preventative treatment.
Boosts heart health
These humble berries are also beneficial for heart health, and researchers believe it’s down to their antioxidant content. These antioxidants may increase our levels of HDL cholesterol, the good kind, and lower our LDL cholesterol, the bad kind, along with lowering blood pressure – all of which are factors of heart disease and stroke. Cranberries may also lower our levels of homocysteine, which is a known risk factor for heart disease, thereby reducing the chances of ending up with the condition.
Reduces the risk for stomach cancer
H. pylori is one of the major causes of stomach ulcers and cancer, and stomach cancer is one of the biggest contributors to cancer deaths around the world. These A-type proanthocyanidins in cranberries we mentioned earlier happen to have a knack for preventing H. pylori from getting a hold of your stomach lining in the first place. Research found that drinking 2 cups of cranberry juice a day significantly lowered the risk of developing an H. pylori infection, thereby reducing the risk for stomach cancer and ulcers.
One study found that consumption reduced the bacteria’s growth in around 17% of those with H. pylori infections.
While these are 3 of the more impressive benefits of cranberries, it’s worth taking a look at some of the smaller – but still mighty – nutritious properties of these berries:
- A good source of vitamin C and E
- Provides fibre
- Rich in manganese
- Rich in copper
- Loaded with antioxidants
Take a look at some of the impressive antioxidants you’ll find in cranberries:
- Quercetin: This antioxidant boosts immunity and gut health, and cranberries happen to be one of the best fruit sources of it.
- Peonidin: This antioxidant gives cranberries their trademark red colour.
- Ursolic acid: This antioxidant is another exceptional anti-inflammatory nutrient.
- Myricetin: This antioxidant is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
- A-type proanthocyanidins: We mentioned these before, and as you know, they’re a powerhouse of gut and heart benefits.
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