Cranberries - Simple Protection from Cancer and Heart Disease
By Charles Hopkins
Published 04/22/2006 | Alternative Medicine
When is the last time you ate cranberries? Was it with a turkey dinner? With all the research pointing to the amazing health benefits of this simple berry, shouldn't cranberries be more than a once a year side dish?
How Cranberries Are Proving Their Strength:
The Cranberry Institute provides the results of studies and research that highlight the fantastic health benefits of the humble cranberry.
Cranberries have been used for thousands of years by Native Americans as a source of food and to extend the shelf life of dried meats. Colonial sailors also made use of the natural preservatives in cranberries (from benzoic acid) which allowed them to last through long sea voyages, and the high Vitamin C content which prevented scurvy.
Perhaps they were on to something since new research suggests that cranberries may prevent the adhesion of the e.coli bacteria - a common cause of food poisoning from contaminated meat - to the urinary tract. This 'anti-adhesion' effect may also help in preventing bacteria from causing stomach ulcers and gum disease.
Vitamin C is also a known powerful antioxidant and is being widely accepted as a means of combating the effects of free radicals in the body which can cause cancer, heart disease and other health problems. Antioxidants from cranberries are being researched for prevention of kidney stones and lowering cholesterol.
While many fruits contain antioxidants, according to research cranberries have more antioxidants than 19 commonly eaten fruits. With this news it makes sense to include cranberries into a balanced diet throughout the year.
How Can You Include Cranberries Into Your Diet?
Fresh, frozen or dried, cranberries can be eaten anytime of the year.
Adding dried cranberries to baking (such as scones, breads and cookies) is an easy way to enjoy their tart sweetness. Adding frozen cranberries to smoothies or soups can lend a mild tang to your creations. Fresh cranberries make excellent garnishes and dressings.
The easiest way to add cranberries to your diet is to drink cranberry juice. While sweetened juices have less antioxidants than unsweetened, the benefits of adding cranberry to your diet are still there. If you add unsweetened juice to sparkling water you can enjoy a refreshing spritzer.
While studies are still being conducted on the health benefits of cranberries there is no doubt that increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables in your diet will lead to a healthier body. Choosing to use a variety of berries, citrus and other fruits will ensure you are giving your body everything it needs for optimum health.