Are you ready to try something delicious and also very healthy?
Cranberries are a versatile inclusion to many dishes. From the bittersweet taste to the colourful appearance, they are normally picked either as a side to healthy meal, or are eaten along with other fresh fruits. The fruit is loaded with phytonutrients which have been known for prevention of a wide set of health concerns. A native of North America, this fruit also has a great deal of antioxidants.
Cranberries are known worldwide for the health benefits they carry. Cranberry juice is a dark red, unsweetened juice made from whole cranberries. The purest form of this juice is the one that is 100% preservative and additive free. It has very strong and tarty flavour and is therefore usually diluted with water.
Growing evidence points to numerous potential health benefits for cranberries and cranberry juice. Due to its high content of flavonoids and phenolic acids, cranberry ranks highly among fruits high in antioxidants.
Cranberries have vitamin C and fibre, and are only 45 calories per cup. They are rich in a disease-fighting ingredients and contain minerals including calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron and zinc.
The phytonutrient composition of cranberries is impressive and includes many potentially bioactive compounds with unusual names: anthocyanins, flavonols, proanthocyanidins, as well as benzoic and phenolic acids.
They are also a source of vitamin E, vitamin K as well as riboflavin, thiamin, niacin and vitamin B-6. There is 87 grams of water in 100 grams of cranberry juice.
Organic Facts reported that a cup of fresh cranberries has around 8980 antioxidant capacity in total. Only blueberries can top that: wild varieties have 13,427; cultivated blueberries have 9,019.
On top of the usability of cranberries in food preparation, the most pronounced feature of the fruit is its capacity to deal with various health concerns. Countless beneficial ingredients are present in cranberry juice which can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways, giving everyone direct access to wealth of health benefits the natural way.
Here are some health complaints that cranberries can help to alleviate or prevent.
1. Urinary Tract Infection
When microorganisms present in one’s urine go over normal levels, infection of the urinary tract can occur. And when this is not treated fast, it can lead to cystitis, which thereafter can harm the kidney, the bladder, and even the prostate.
Drinking cranberry juice to prevent urinary tract infections has been a traditional folk remedy for hundreds of years and some research studies published in the last 10 years indicate that the proanthocyanidins in cranberry juice inhibit harmful bacteria from clinging to the cells on the walls of the bladder and urinary tract. This prevents the bacteria from multiplying, so infection can be avoided.
Research done in Canada at McGill University in Montréal, indicates that cranberries are acting by multiple mechanisms, possibly preventing bacteria from moving around and therefore invading the host.
2. Tumor or Cancer
Polyphenolic compounds present in cranberries work as a natural army working to prevent the development of cancer and in cells. Moreover, the same fruit components inhibit spreading of deadly cells in the human breast, colon, and prostate, which are the most common malignancies.
Induction of apoptosis is thought to play a role in the tumor-inhibitory activity of dietary phytochemicals like the ones present in cranberries. Recent research studies suggest that apoptosis may play a key role in cranberry’s ability to limit tumor cell growth.
The high salycilic acid present in the fruit also reduces swelling and blood clots.
3. Cardiovascular Diseases
Did you know that the antioxidants in cranberry juice can help you lower the risk of heart diseases and related symptoms. The antioxidant component of this bittersweet berry can help to clear the arteries and reduce plaque build-up. At the 2003 American Chemical Society meeting, experts reported that cranberry juice could boost good (HDL) cholesterol.
4. Respiratory Infections
Scientists discovered that cranberry juice can inhibit some particular strains of Haemophilus influenzae, a type of bacteria found in the nose and throat of most of healthy adults and children. The bacteria can also cause middle ear infections.
According to researchers at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in 2002, the active ingredients of cranberry juice can inhibit the hair-thin structures of bacteria, which commonly causes ear and respiratory infections among children, and prevent them from sticking to red blood cells or mouth cells, a stage that can allow the bacteria to spread in the body.
5. Osteoporosis and Tooth Decay
A natural source of calcium, cranberry juice can help you lower the risk of developing osteoporosis as you age. The same component of cranberries is responsible for preventing tooth cavities. Proanthocyanidins on the other hand, also help to protect your teeth as they hinder acid production and inhibit the harmful bacteria from clinging to the teeth.
These components also protect the teeth from cavities by preventing the growth of plaque. Good oral hygiene, along with the consumption of cranberries, disrupts the pathogenic mechanism of dental caries and fascilitate good, long-term dental health.
6. Cranberries May Lower Diabetes Risk
Cranberries continue to impress scientists with their numerous body benefits as evidenced by numerous cranberry studies presented at the 2015 Experimental Biology conference in Boston. New research suggests that consuming cranberries may have a positive effect on the management of blood sugar level.
The researchers from the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, established that cranberries help to maintain healthy cells and that adding cranberries to a meal could help protect against the spikes and dips in blood sugar that are related to internal damage of blood vessels.
This is certainly a good news if you have diabetes and worrying about the complications and other health problems associated with the condition.
7. Overweight and Obesity
A million dollars every day gets spent on weight loss products that are often unsafe or ineffective but cranberry juice can be of real help if you want to lose weight. It's a low calorie nutritious drink and it contains fibre which will help you feel full for longer. In addition it apparently has an emulsifying effect on the fats which in turn is likely to help you to slim down.
It is a wonder how a single fruit can contain loads of nutritional value, yet it still has a low calorie count. This is the reason cranberry fruit has become the object of research and study concerning weight loss and its potential for being a "diet miracle".
8. Kidney Problems
The presence of kidney stones in the bladder can lead to further kidney problems, unless this is prevented earlier. There is some (but not definitely proven yet) evidence on the use of cranberry to lower the risk of kidney stones. Initial evidence suggests that drinking a cup of cranberry juice once or twice a day in addition to water might lower the risk of forming certain type of kidney stones.
9. Stomach Ulcers
If you worry about getting a stomach ulcer or already have an ulcer, you might want to ask your health care practitioner about a simple but promising aid - cranberry juice.
In 2008 study, 271 children and teenagers who had tested positive for H. pylori were divided into groups drinking cranberry juice, receiving a probiotic or taking a placebo. The juice group (a glass of juice for three weeks) had the best “eradication rates” for Helicobacter pylori indicating that cranberry juice could be used to help preventing stomach ulcers.
The study was widely reported in the media and you can read an article about the research written in the New York Times here.
H. pylori is a bacterium that infects well over 30% or more of the world’s population. This is, therefore, one of the most common bacterial infections known to mankind. In the early 1980s, Australian pathologist, Robin Warren and gastroenterologist, Barry Marshall, identified H. pylori and suggested a link to the development of stomach ulcers.
A person who lacks vitamin C can develop scurvy. Although scurvey happens very rarely in Western countries, it is always important to have enough vitamin C in your diet as it is vital for the production of collagen and responsible for the healthy functioning of cells and tissues as well as lowering the severity of the flu and cold.
11. Lung Inflammation
Cranberry juice can prevent or diminish inflammation of the lungs caused by the influenza virus. A substance present in cranberry juices obstructs the flu virus from sticking to the cells and prevents infections.
Scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) claim that the antioxidants and the phytonutrients which are abundant in cranberry juice play a very important role in mental coordination and preventing memory loss.
The same fruit components are responsible for neutrilising the free radicals which are the main cause of skin aging. Cranberry juice has the potential to protect your skin against the damage caused by environmental factors.
Vitamin C in cranberry juice is crucial for the production of amino acids which are required for the production of collagen, and the antioxidant resveratrol that is abundant in the juice, can be effective in minimising acne and pimples, so put cranberry juice on your shopping list if you want to have a great skin.
Just in case you just learned about the overall health benefits of cranberry juice and you would like to try it out right away, you should be aware that if you have medical issues or undergoing treatment for a health condition, it is best for you to consult with your physician or dietician first to ensure the juice is safe to drink in your situation.
Cranberry juice may be the healthiest, but you need to exercise caution if any of the points below apply to you.
- Person On Warfarin (Coumadin) Medication
You may be taking an anti-coagulant drug known as Warfarin, which works as a blood thinner preventing blood clots from forming. Such cases can lead to bleeding, when you consume too much cranberry juice while you are medicating yourself with this drug. So either you have run a blood test or speak with your physician before you start including this in your diet.
- Patients With Aspirin Allergy
Cranberry juice is loaded with high amount of salicylic acid. This is the same acid used in manufacturing of aspirin. People who require blood thinners for some reasons are actually not advised to consume cranberry juice, especially in high amount. Just the same, if you are allergic to aspirin, you might avoid this specific juice just the same so allergies will not take place.
- People Diagnosed To Have Kidney Stones
Cranberries have a generous, concentrated amount of calcium and oxalate. Chances of developing calcium oxalate stones or kidney stones can increase. This is why it is best to avoid cranberries when you learn you have kidney stones or you have had a history of such medical issue.
Ways To Enjoy Cranberries
Maximising the health components of cranberry need not mean that you have to consume it in just one and the same manner.
Just so you know, there are a number of ways (other than juice) you can enjoy these fruits and here are some of them:
- Get a homemade cocktail mix of nuts, select seeds and dried cranberries.
- Serve frozen cranberries made into a relaxing cool smoothie.
- Simply drop off dried cranberries in your bowl of breakfast cereal or baked muffin.
- Toss in some fresh cranberries as the main ingredient of your snack cookies.
- Experiment with your fruit juices and taste the great flavour as you blend cranberry with it.
Cranberry Juice - How to Make It?
The most suggested manner of consuming cranberry is to have it as a freshly extracted juice so you get to maximise the health benefits. The internet has a lot to offer as to how you can further enjoy cranberries in a number of ways possible but the best way to have cranberries is to make your own juice.
If you don't live in an area where cranberries are abundant in the woods, you can probably buy some fresh or frozen. Either is fine.
- Wash and drain fresh or frozen red-ripe cranberries.
- Combine cranberries and water in a large pan and bring to a boil. Add ~ 1 litre of filtered water per half a kilogram of cranberries (1 pound of cranberries and 1 quart of water).
- Reduce heat and simmer until berries burst.
- Strain juice through a very fine strainer lined with a muslin cloth.
- Add a little bit of sugar or fructose if you want the juice to be slightly sweet.
- Allow to cool and serve it at room temperature or with ice.
It is obvious that cranberry is an ultimate source of health as it gets you stronger immune system which in turn works as treatment and relief all at the same time. Cranberry juice is now a very trendy beverage, and it's popularity is not surprising considering the all the amazing health benefits it is know for.
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