For as long as I can remember, cranberries have always been part of the Thanksgiving and Christmas festive celebrations. I have fond memories of making cranberry “chains” to decorate our Christmas tree and of course there was always a bowl of cranberry sauce on the table for both the Thankgiving and Christmas feast. I especially liked the whole berry kind. In more recent times, I’ve learned there is more to the cranberry story.
The Cranberry’s Healing Power
This wholesome fruit has a delicious taste and many important health benefits as well. The cranberry is very high in several important nutrients, in particular, a variety of important antioxidant vitamins. Nutritionists and other experts often talk about the many benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and cranberries are an excellent way to fit five or more servings a day of fruits and vegetables into even the busiest lifestyle.
Is The Cranberry Really Nutritious?
The cranberry has a role in optimizing overall health and fitness, but it is thought to play a role in reducing the occurrence of urinary tract infection. This effect is thought to be the result of the proanthocyanidins (PACs) contained in cranberries. These PACs have been shown to prevent certain types of bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract.
The PACs contained in the cranberry may also help prevent gum disease and stomach ulcers, using the same anti-adhesion mechanism.
The evidence continues to increase showing that the phytonutrients and antioxidants contained in the cranberry and other fruits help to protect against a variety of diseases, including such potentially life-threatening conditions like cancer and heart disease.
Antioxidants contribute their healing power through their ability to fight the harmful effects of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are part of the normal cellular processes of the body. They can also be the result of environmental pollution of our air, food and water, and they can be quite damaging to our health. Antioxidants work to mitigate the damage caused by free radicals. Therefore, they are believed to play an important role in the prevention of degenerative diseases and perhaps even retarding the aging process.
If you want to include more cranberry products in your diet, these products are plentiful, inexpensive and available all year long. Fresh cranberries are available in grocery stores and supermarkets for the majority of the year, and when they are not available, there are plenty of canned and frozen cranberry products to take their place.
In addition to fresh, canned and frozen cranberries, there are a number of excellent cranberry based products on the market. You’ll find the cranberry sauce that is part of every traditional Thanksgiving celebration, cranberry juice and even cranberry pudding. With all these choices, it’s not hard to fit more cranberries into just about any diet. And with all the health benefits cranberries contain, there is good reason to enjoy more of this tasty treat.
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