Down through the ages, cranberry fruits and leaves have been used for a variety of ailments such as wounds, urinary disorders, diarrhea, liver problems, diabetes and stomach disorders.
Today cranberries are considered to be one of nature’s super foods
The more recently discovered of cranberry health benefits has been its antioxidant and anticancer properties. The majority of physicians and other health professionals believe there is a clear association between a diet high in fruits and vegetables and a low risk of chronic disease. Phytonutrients (naturally derived plant compounds) - particularly antioxidants - are increasingly being shown to help optimize human health.
Cranberries are scientifically recognized as potent sources of antioxidants, specifically from a subclass of flavonoids called proathocyanidins (PACs) which are unique to, and abundant in, cranberries. Joe Vinson, Ph.D, research chemist at the University of Scranton advises: “Cranberries contain the most antioxidant phenols compared to 19 commonly eaten fruits. Cranberries are loaded with antioxidants and should be eaten more often”.
In addition, these same PACS can prevent the adhesion of certain of bacteria, including E. coli, (associated with urinary tract infections) to the urinary tract wall. Cranberries acidify and deodorize the urine, protecting against urinary tract infections as well as the formation of stones.
Kidney stones are a painful reality many people have to live with
The root of the problem is calcium oxalate crystals which form in the urine and then progress through the thin tubes of the urinary tract. The benefits of cranberry are three-fold in the treatment of kidney stones:
• Cranberry juice lowers the concentration of oxalate and phosphate
• Cranberry juice increases the citrate concentration
• Cranberry juice dilutes the concentration of calcium oxalate in the urine
The anti-adhesion properties of cranberry may also inhibit the bacteria associated with gum disease and stomach ulcers plus cranberries are also used for incontinence and cystitis. Recent scientific research shows that cranberries and cranberry products may help protect against heart disease, anti aging, dental disease and ulcers too.
Where do cranberries originate?
Cranberries are one of only three fruits native to North America. The small cranberry is V.oxycoccos
and occurs in other areas of the Northern hemisphere while the larger one is V.macrocarpon
and is unique to North America. Today, cranberries are farmed in some 40 000 acres across the USA and Canada and harvested between September and October. They are a versatile fruit and the big plus is that they are good to eat because they add a delicious flavor to a variety of foods.
Cranberries are naturally fat free and have very little sodium so they can be safely added to anyone’s diet
Cranberries are used to produce beverages and many other food products as well as dietary supplements in the form of extracts, teas and capsules or tablets so although the fruit season is short, it is easy to get hold of cranberry products for your cranberry health benefits all year round. Fresh fruit is generally available from September to December.
Cranberries are a great choice for the health conscious.