Cranberries – more than turkey’s bit on the side

 

Some see cranberry sauce as an accompaniment to their turkey dinner – others view it as essential. Some sweet-toothed friends couldn’t eat turkey without it! But as we draw closer to Christmas, it’s a great time for a fresh look at this remarkable little berry.

Whether it’s eat five-a-day or ten-a-day, one thing all dieticians and nutritionists agree upon is that we should all eat more fruit and vegetables for prevention of disease. Daily consumption of a variety of fruit is necessary to achieve a healthy dietary pattern to meet recommendations for micronutrient intake and to promote a diversity of phytonutrients. Berry fruits represent an important group that should be included, and cranberries are an excellent example.

Cranberries – berry good for your health

Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C, but when it comes to antioxidants, they outrank nearly every other fruit and vegetable, with only blueberries possessing more antioxidant properties. The antioxidants can help lower density lipoprotein (LDL “bad”) cholesterol.

Historically cranberries were used for a variety of health issues, such as urinary disorders, diabetes, stomach ailments and liver problems. It turns out evidence suggesting that cranberries may decrease the recurrence of urinary tract infections is important because a nutritional approach to this condition could lower the use of antibiotic treatment and the consequent development of resistance to these drugs.

When it comes to cancer, the phytonutrients in cranberries appear to work both separately and together to battle it, by causing cancer cell death. Considering the emerging positive preclinical effects of cranberries, experts in the field are urging that future clinical directions targeting cancer or premalignancy in high risk cohorts should be considered.

Cranberries – more than turkey’s bit on the side

A native plant of North America, Native Americans ate cranberries fresh, ground, or mashed with cornmeal and baked it into bread. They also mixed berries with wild game and melted fat to form pemmican, a survival ration for the winter months. Maple sugar or honey was used to sweeten the berry’s tangy flavour. The Pilgrims soon learned to use cranberries from the Native Americans and by 1683 cranberry juice was made by the settlers.

Today cranberries have found their way into other cuisines, with both fresh and dried cranberries working well in curries and Moroccan dishes. Use cranberries in sauces and chutneys, but without too much sugar, they don’t need it. Add dried cranberries to cereal and porridge, but again ensure you pick a brand that has little or no added sugar.

Cranberry juice even has special benefits, with research having found that it prevents E. coli bacteria from sticking to the bladder cells, flushing out the body. However, when buying cranberry juice read the label carefully, to avoid mixtures that contain high levels of fructose, corn syrup or sugar.

A Very Cranberry Christmas & New Year

Many of the key constituent parts of a Christmas dinner are worthy of a place in a healthy diet, from turkey and brussels sprouts to red cabbage, to name a few. Cranberries can proudly sit alongside them as a tasty and healthy addition to a Christmas plate. But why wait until Christmas? Start to include them today and into 2018 as you make eating more real food Just Routine!

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Iris is the founder of No Targets Just Routine. She has researched food since 2009 and believes “Happiness is real food shared with loved ones.”

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