By Dr. Janet Brill
Cranberry is a low, creeping shrub that grows up to 2 meters in length and 5 to 20 centimeters in height. A prominent crop in Canadian provinces and American states, this shrub bears berries characterized by a deep red color when fully ripe. The fruit is edible with a typical acidic taste that can often overwhelm its sweetness.
A number of nutritionists and health care professionals recommend cranberries as a heart healthy food, particularly for the plethora of antioxidants present in it.
The Cranberry Institute quotes Joe Vinson, Ph.D., research chemist at the University of Scranton as saying, “Cranberries contained the most antioxidant phenols compared to 19 commonly eaten fruits. Cranberries are loaded with antioxidants and should be eaten more often.”
It offers a lot of other health benefits including:
Heart Healthy Food
Cranberries help maintain a healthy heart in many different ways. They help to keep “bad” cholesterol levels in check and help prevent arterial clogging. It also decreases the risk of atherosclerosis, (clogging of the arteries) by preventing the formation of plaque on the arterial walls.
In the same manner, the consumption of this deep red berry diminishes the chances of stroke in healthy individuals while in those who have already suffered a stroke, cranberries can help the arteries to heal.
Weight Loss Food
The high content of antioxidants in cranberries can help regulate your metabolism and ensure the normal functioning of the digestive system which in turn helps you lose weight faster.
Strengthens the Immune System
The main role of antioxidants is to fight harmful toxins which suppress the immune system. Rich sources of antioxidants, cranberries promote immune system health thereby increasing the body’s resistance against sickness and disease.
Treats Urinary Tract Infections
The intake of cranberry juice has been shown to help prevent and treat urinary tract infections. Proanthocyanidins, a major constituent of cranberries, inhibit E. coli bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall, which helps one avoid kidney and bladder problems.
Relieves Skin Conditions
Cranberries are also considered an effective remedy to help relieve skin problems including psoriasis, acne, dermatitis and eczema.
Cranberries can be consumed either fresh or processed such as in juice, sauces, jams, or sweetened dried cranberries.