During the course of the day, we're all faced with many choices – some daunting, some second nature. Cream or sugar? Carrot sticks or chocolate? And in the quest for better health, there are also many choices that fitness freaks are forced to make. Workout or sweet slumber? Eat a protein bar or a handful of cranberries? … Wait, cranberries!? Yes, these tart berries go beyond Thanksgiving (and Cosmopolitans). It turns out that this fruit is indeed a superfood, offering a lot more than it lets on.
The plant is actually a dwarf, creeping shrub, or vine, which runs up to 10 to 20 cm in height and bears small, evergreen leaves. The berry itself is tiny and very acidic in taste with a pH ranging from 2.3 to 2.5. Cranberries (Scientific Name: Vaccinium Macrocarpon) are loaded with vitamin C and fiber, rich in phyto-nutrients which are essential for all-round wellness, and also contain various chemical substances that may offer protection from tooth cavities, urinary tract infection, and inflammatory diseases.
9 Cranberry Benefits
1. Powerhouse of Antioxidants
Did you know that cranberries succeed almost all fruits and vegetables in disease-fighting antioxidants, including strawberries, raspberries, spinach, broccoli and cherries? One cup of cranberries in fact has a total of 8,983 antioxidant capacity.
2. Prevents UTIs
Cranberry is perhaps best known for its role in preventing UTIs. The high level of proanthocyanidins in cranberries helps lower the adhesion of certain bacteria to the urinary-tract walls, in turn fighting off infections. According to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, cranberry helps prevent UTIs. However, cranberry juice is far less effective since it takes an extremely large concentration of cranberry to prevent bacterial adhesion.
(Also read: Eating Cranberries May Promote Heart Health and Stronger Immunity: Experts)
3. Boosts Brain Power
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds present in cranberries may improve memory and coordination according to Tufts University. So if you wish to stay brilliant, you might want to snack on dried cranberries daily.
4. Prevents Cancer
“Research has shown that cranberries are beneficial in slowing tumor progression and have shown positive effects against prostate, liver, breast, ovarian and colon cancers”, says Dr. Manoj K. Ahuja, Sukdha Hospital.
5. Helps with Weight Loss
“Cranberry juice has an emulsifying effect on the fats deposited in the body which in turn help with weight loss. Since it is loaded with fiber, it also helps one stay full for longer”, says Delhi-based Nutritionist Anshul Jaibharat.
6. Combats Tooth Decay
According to researchers at the Center of Oral Biology and Eastman Department of Dentistry at The University of Rochester Medical Center, the proanthocyanidins present in cranberries may benefit oral health by preventing gum disease and bacteria from binding to the teeth.
(Also read: 5 Best Cranberry Recipes To Try At Home)
7. Nourishes Skin
According to www.health.com, cranberries help nourish the skin and make it more supple. You can blend quarter cup of honey with two tablespoons of dried cranberries and quarter tablespoon of essential oil and apply it to your skin for 10 minutes for improved results.
8. Boosts Immunity
Since cranberries are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, they promote a healthy immune system and reduce the odds of you getting sick.
9. Heart Healthy
According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, people who drink a glass of unsweetened cranberry juice a day have increased levels of HDL cholesterol i.e. good cholesterol by about 10%. The polyphenols present in cranberries may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing platelet build-up and reducing blood pressure.
Who knew karonda (cranberries in Hindi) could help benefit your body so much? Now if you don't wish to add it to a trail mix, you can reap the benefits by sneaking cranberries into oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, muffins or sprinkling a handful of cranberries on your salad or even your go-to morning cereal. The superfood also pairs beautifully with pork and chicken dishes.