Throughout history, the health benefits of cranberries have been based on folkloric remedies that have existed for centuries. These health-giving benefits were long recognized by the First People on this continent.
Fresh cranberries are available from mid-September through December, which probably explains why they were traditionally served (fresh) during the year-end holiday season.
The cranberry is a tiny but amazing fruit that is unique in the variety of health benefits it may provide. In short, cranberries are known to:
- Fight E.coli – this is the bacteria that can cause urinary tract infection
- Get rid of H. pylori – this is the bacteria that is linked to stomach cancer and ulcers
- Help eliminate streptococcus mutans – this is the bacteria responsible for tooth decay
- Help prevent stroke and heart disease
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There are several ways to enjoy cranberries:
- Fresh or dried – are highly recommended. Fresh cranberries can be used in breads, and muffins. Dried cranberries are less tart than the fresh ones and can be eaten as a snack – no more than 1/2 cup per day. Fresh cranberries cooked during the holiday season are excellent. Read to the end for a slew of great recipes using cranberry.
- Cranberry juice – should be real juice and not the cocktail. Choose pure cranberry juice. If it is too tart it can be mixed with sparkling water. About 6 ounces daily will provide optimum health benefits.
- Cranberry supplements – these are suggested as a last resort for people who just don't like the taste of cranberries. Follow the dosage on the bottle. However, it is always recommended that you get your nutrients from food and not food products or supplements.
With on-going research even more health benefits from eating cranberries are being discovered. For more information, please visit the links listed below. I personally was not aware of several of these health benefits.
- Cranberries appear to help significantly lower the incidence of human breast cancer cells in tumor development in an animal model.
- Cranberries are high in flavonoids that may reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis which reduces blood flow within the arteries. Ongoing research continues to suggest that cranberries may offer a natural defense against arteriosclerosis, which can lead to heart attacks, angina and blood clots.
- It appears that cranberries have an ability to protect brain cells from free radical damage and the subsequent motor and cognitive function losses. This means that they have anti-aging properties.
- Cranberries anti-adhesion properties help reduce the number of oral bacteria that cause dental plaque and help reverse periodontal (gum) disease. A mouthwash containing cranberries appears to significantly decrease the number of Streptococcus mutans, which causes many dental cavities.
- Antioxidants help protect our bodies by stabilizing free radicals we are exposed to everyday. Cranberries contain more antioxidant phenols than 19 commonly eaten fruits.
- Proanthocyanidins (PACs) are present in many fruits, but only the PACs of cranberries and blueberries have been shown to inhibit the adhesion of infection causing E. coli bacteria in the urinary tract. This anti-adhesion property of cranberries appears to act in other areas of the body, including the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers, and gum disease. It appears likely that other susceptible bacteria will be found. Research is also proving that the use of low-level antibiotics to prevent recurring bacterial infections can make people multi-antibiotic resistant. Cranberries can help prevent the initial bacterial infections without contributing to antibiotic resistance.
- Most peptic ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection, Helicobacter pylori. Cranberry juice has been shown to inhibit the adhesion of these bacteria to the stomach lining. With 25 million Americans suffering from peptic ulcers in their lifetime, this is a significant health problem.
- Due to a natural anti-adhesion substance in cranberries, they can help ward off urinary tract and bladder infections.
- Emerging research is that drinking cranberry juice may also have an antiviral effect on intestinal viruses.
- New research shows that common food-borne pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria, and E. Coli can be significantly reduced in raw minced beef, and Salmonella and E. Coli in unpasteurized apple cider, with the addition of cranberry concentrate.
- Cranberries are now being researched for their positive effect on prostate health.
And now, the recipes! Enjoy!
Spiced Cranberry Sauce
- Wash and drain cranberries and set aside.
- Combine all other ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Add the cranberries, cooking 7-10 minutes or until the cranberries begin to pop.
- Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for one hour, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Chill overnight and serve cool or at room temperature.
- 4 cups fresh, whole cranberries
- 2 cups unrefined sugar (I love thisone)
- Zest of 1 orange, in strips
- 2 tablespoons juice from the orange
- 1/3 cup good quality brandy
- Wash cranberries in cold water, removing any stems and leaves, if present. Drain.
- Peel the zest of the orange into 1/8" wide strips, a few inches long.
- Sprinkle cranberries with orange juice and sugar; stir in the orange peels
- Transfer mixture to a baking dish or casserole and spread evenly about 1 1/2" deep.
- Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake at 300F for about an hour.
- When done, gently stir in brandy and store in 1/2 pint canning jars or freeze.
A stick of cinnamon and/or a pinch of ground cloves may be added before baking.
- Slice apples.
- In a 3 quart saucepan, bring 1/3 cup cranberry juice to a boil; add apples, cranberries, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Stir and reduce heat to medium-low or until just a simmer.
- Continue to cook, uncovered for about 15 minutes or until the apples are just becoming tender.
- Add honey or sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook for another 4 or 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and refrigerate.
- When cold, taste and adjust sweetness as desired.
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Next month is Egg Nog Recipes Gone Wild. Get ready!!!!