The health benefits of cranberries more than make up for its tart taste and tough texture so no matter where you are if you can get hold of some, grab them with multiple hands. And that's because these little red berries contain several compounds that show early promise against cancer and heart disease. What's more, cranberry juice has earned the scientific stamp of approval for its traditional role in relieving bladder infections. Along with other berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, cranberries are an excellent source of ellagic acid, an antioxidant compound that has raised high hopes in cancer research.
Ellagic acid is a micro-nutrient found in many fruits, vegetables and some nuts and it's said to help prevent mutations in your DNA, that genetic stuff that instructs your cells how to function properly. It also helps remove toxins from your body as well as protecting you against free radicals, those harmful oxygen molecules. This acid has also been shown to disarm cancer-causing agents and to help prevent tumours from growing.
One intriguing aspect of this compound is its apparent ability to battle carcinogens on both ends. That is before they take hold. You could say that ellagic acid has an anti-initiating activity because it inhibits the genetic damage that starts the cancer process. Even after a carcinogen has been introduced into your cells, ellagic acid helps prevent the cells from becoming cancerous. Ellagic acid is best absorbed in its natural state in food which is good news if you enjoy the benefits of cranberries year-round.
Just a point in mind - If you can purchase some pure cranberry juice, drink it and enjoy it. Allow the juice to circulate through your system for some time before letting it all out. Because ellagic acid is not that well absorbed it can also be quickly eliminated from your body. So to get as much of the benefit as you can stick around awhile.
Other benefits of cranberries are that they keep you healthy by putting more flavonoids into your diet. Flavonoids are plant pigments that put the red, orange and yellow into fruits and vegetables and the fact that they have antioxidant abilities. They too help block the damage caused by free radicals that can lead to cancer, heart disease and other serious conditions. Under these conditions, it's always a good idea to eat lots of food with colour.
Cranberries contain two powerful flavonoids - quercetin and myricetin. The darker cranberry varieties like Stevens, Early Black and Ben Lear contain a third compound called kaempferol. Each of these compounds has been shown to help prevent genetic changes that can lead to cancer. Flavonoids in general and quercetin, in particular, are thought to play a role in preventing artery disease, perhaps because their antioxidant ability helps prevent damage to the linings of blood vessels.
If you have a low intake of flavonoids, you could have a higher risk of coronary disease. It makes sense that if you eat lots of fruit and vegetables you would automatically have a much higher intake of flavonoids and you'd also have a much lower risk of getting a stroke.
Did you mother or your grandmother ever tell you that cranberry juice was good for you and that it would clear up your urinary tract? Because if they didn't, you'd be wise to take up their offer now. If you drink about 10 ounces of cranberry juice cocktail daily for six months you have significantly lower amounts of bacteria in your urine and you'd also be almost 60 per cent less likely to develop infections than if you drank a non-cranberry impostor. And if you already have a urinary tract infection, drinking pure cranberry juice over the same period could lower your infection rate by up to 75 per cent. Why not give it a try. After all, you've nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Think of it this way - If you could make your urine more acidic, bacteria would have a tougher time growing. And it's for this reason why cranberry juice may help prevent urinary tract infections. It's for the same reason a high dose of vitamin C, up to 1,000 milligrams a day would also help you with bladder or other urinary infections.
It isn't so much the acidity of cranberries that help keep bacteria at bay but rather other compounds in the juice such as fructose that help prevent bacteria from adhering to the lining of the bladder and urethra. If you're finding it difficult to get hold of cranberries, you can always opt for blueberries - a close cousin of cranberries because you'll get the same results.
Buying and preparing cranberries is the ultimate no-brainer. If it were easier, it would be called fast food. Depending on where you are, whole fresh cranberries usually come in 1-pound bags. These berries are long-keepers so they'll last a month or more when kept in your refrigerator and over a year when stored in the freezer. You don't even have to wash them because washing cranberries before storage will cause them to spoil.
When preparing fresh cranberry sauce, here's all you need to do:
1) Put a pound of cranberries (4 cups) in a medium saucepan and cover with two cups of boiling water. Return to a boil, cover the pan and continue cooking for about 4 minutes or until their skins burst.
2) Because cranberries are so tart, stir in some sugar to taste. You may need to add a fair amount of sugar.
3) Return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat and serve.
Eat them with Relish. Since fresh raw cranberries contain considerably more healing compounds than cooked ones, you may want to try a cranberry relish. Put a pound of cranberries, two apples and a large orange in a food processor and process until coarse. Mix in some honey to taste, refrigerate for several hours and then serve.
Have a Drink. Because fresh cranberries have a tart taste and tough texture, you're unlikely to eat them raw. But you can still get the nutritional benefits of cranberries by drinking the juice. Commercial cranberry juice cocktail is loaded with vitamin C, with one glass containing a full day's supply. The downside is that most of them also have a full day's supply of sugar and are never more than 30 per cent of the actual juice.
An alternative to supermarket cranberry juice is the juice you'll find in health food stores or fresh food markets where juices are often made. You can buy either pure cranberry juice or concentrated cranberry extract which is used to make cold drinks or hot teas
Please take note that the information on this site is designed for educational purposes and is intended solely for general readership. The contents herein are not intended to offer any personal medical advice or to diagnose any health issues you may have. This information is also by no means a substitute for medical care by a licensed healthcare provider. For that, you'd need to consult your medical doctor or a health care practitioner for any advice should you require prescription medication.