By Dr. Janet Brill
Who needs expensive, over-hyped, goji and acai berries when you can get serious healing power from the season’s best kept superfood secret—and all for a fraction of the price, just fifty cents a cup! The North American Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is the most commonly used cranberry in the US. Cranberries rank among the highest antioxidant contents of any fruit, which means they top the anti-inflammatory food chart and are safe and effective medicine for helping reduce cancer and heart disease risk. What’s more, they are packed with a plant chemical called proanthocyanidins, a type of flavonoid polyphenol known to carry an extraordinary saluatory effects, especially for the heart. Cranberries also house a nice amount of the palliative vitamin antioxidant, vitamin C. Both antioxidant compounds work in tandem to prevent urinary tract and other pesky infections. (Cranberries have been shown to prevent the adhesion of harmful bacteria along the inner lining of the urinary tract.)
When most of us think cranberries, we conjure up images of the super sweet corrugated jelly-like substance plopped from a can at the holiday feast. What you may not know is that the canned variety renders this bona fide superfruit into an over sweetened junk food. One half cup of a certain famous canned jellied cranberry sauce weighs in at whopping 220 calories. With the calories doesn’t come with much nutrition, you will ingest less than a gram of dietary fiber, and no significant amounts of vitamins A or C. What it also supplies you with is a hefty dose of sugar (42 grams), most of it derived from the “added sugar,” high fructose corn syrup, which is the second leading ingredient. Added sugar—the kind added by food processors to processed foods—is the new trans fat. The American Heart Association has specific guidelines for limiting added sugar for better heart health — no more than 100 calories a day (25 grams, 5tsp) for women and no more than 150 calories a day (37 grams 7.4tsp) for men.
Holiday quick tip: whipping up your own brand of cranberry sauce from fresh berries is almost as quick and simple as opening the canned stuff and smoothing out the ridges. Homemade cranberry sauce, if made with orange juice, fresh cranberries, and a small amount of sugar is delicious and packs in the healthy nutrients. So, next time you pay a visit to the produce isle, be sure to pick up a bag of cranberries and cook up this superfood delight which will provide you with fiber, powerful antioxidants, 30 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement and all this for a mere 60 calories a pop!
Quick and Healthy Homemade Cranberry Relish:
Yield: 6 servings
Wash and pick over cranberries. Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Note: To add more flavor and nutrition, you can add small pieces of fresh oranges and apples into the saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until cranberries burst. Remove from heat and cool at room temperature. Chill in refrigerator, (cranberry sauce will thicken.)
Nutritional Information per Serving (~ 1/2 cup):
Calories: 60, Fat: 8 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 0 mg,
Carbohydrate: 15 g, Dietary Fiber: 2 g, Sugars: 9 g, Protein: 0 g