They’re not just for Thanksgiving anymore!  Packed with flavor and nutrients, these ruby-red berries are delicious any day of the week.  American colonists exported Cranberries to England by the beginning of the 18th century, and Native Americans used them as a source for decorative red dye as well as medicinally.  The tart berries contain astringent tannins that work to contract tissue and help stop bleeding.  Let’s START SOMEWHERE today learning about the many ways that Cranberries start the party in our world.  

Cranberries belong to the genus Vaccinium, which is in the same family as the blueberry.  Although there are more than 100 varieties grown in North America, the smaller ones called Early Blacks and Howes, are what we typically find at the market.  The larger variations are typically used to make juice.  Interestingly, Cranberries are also known as “bounce berries” because they bounce when they’re ripe.  Even during harvesting, they are often sorted by quality based on how well they bounce against slanted board barriers.  

The majority of the nutritional research has been done on the Early Black variety of Cranberry, the ones with the deeper red color.  These intensely colored berries have the highest concentration of anthocyanins.  Anthocyanins are super interesting because we have known for a long time that they are protective against a myriad of diseases in humans.  However, because they work to help other nutrients become more active and effective, they are difficult to study in isolation.  It’s fascinating to me to learn how even quality foods bring out the best in other quality foods!

Take note of these three LIVE YOUNGER benefits of Cranberries:

  1. Anti-inflammatory:  The high concentration of phytonutrients, including anthocyanins, provide benefit against chronic inflammation.  Chronic inflammation must be minimized if you desire to LIVE YOUNGER.  
  2. Antibacterial:  Cranberries have been used to treat urinary tract infections (UTI) long before formal research was done in this area. Originally, it was thought that the acidity of the berries was the remedy but now we are learning that is only part of the story.  Their ability to provide UTI support is primarily due to their proanthocyanidin (PAC) content.  These specially linked molecules make it unfavorable for some bacteria, including E. coli, to attach to the urinary tract lining.  In some studies, these PAC molecules are found to kill cancer cells.  
  3. Heart and Vessel Health:  Cranberries inhibit the triggering of two key enzymes that initiate atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, by  blocking the messenger molecule that activates this destructive process.  You are only as old as your arteries!

As always, I recommend organically-grown berries, when feasible.  Since Cranberries freeze well, they can be kept for at least a year in your deep freeze.  Wash and dry the berries and spread them out on a cookie sheet. Place them in the freezer until frozen solid and then transfer to a bag or jar.  

Over 300 research articles have been written regarding the cumulative health benefits of cranberries. I found some conflicting research and much of the debate revolves around Cranberry supplements and “juice cocktails” that contain high amounts of refined sugar.  Eat the real fruit.  I believe that God has provided us rich resources of nutrient-dense food that taste great and provide what we need to feel our best and function optimally.  

Cranberries start the party!  START SOMEWHERE today putting them in a breakfast smoothie or atop oatmeal.  The options are as vast as your imagination!  LIVE YOUNGER with the many advantages of fresh food. You can do it.  I will help you.

Cranberries Start The Party

Cranberries Start The Party