Not many of us are going to want to pick out some random berries out of a bush in fear that they might be poisonous, so we leave it to people that know what they’re doing and go to the store. In the produce section, you’ll be able to find some of the “good” berries, especially in the form of cranberries. Cranberries grow in northern parts of the world, ranging from the United States and Canada to parts of China and Russia.
Some of us in the United States might think of Thanksgiving dinner when it comes to cranberries, we really should be eating more of them. Cranberries, when not packed with sugar, have a ton of tremendous health benefits because of the nutrition included. Not to mention that they are already sweet on their own and taste delicious. Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional breakdown of cranberries, and those health benefits that they’re going to bring to you.
Nutrition of Cranberries
While some people opt for the dried cranberries that can bring a lot of calories and sugars, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by eating them raw. One cup of raw cranberries only has around 50 calories, making for a tremendously healthy snack. Each serving only has 13.4 grams of carbs, and 20 percent of your daily recommendation of fiber. Out of the vitamins, vitamin C is the most abundant with a quarter of your daily value.
Cranberries are also a good source of vitamin E and vitamin K, with around 10 percent daily value. Out of the minerals, manganese is the big one with about one quarter of daily recommendations. Other vitamins and minerals that you’ll find in smaller amounts include vitamin B, potassium, copper and iron. Cranberries have absolutely no cholesterol, and they contain only 0.1 grams of fat in each cup. All that goodness with just 4.4 grams of sugars.
A Clean Tract
The biggest thing about cranberries that people know about cranberries (and cranberry juice in particular) is what it can do for your urinary tract. For those that suffer from regular urinary tract infections, cranberries are one of the first things that they are told to eat because of the great antioxidants found within. If you can find a juice that isn’t packed with sugar, that will also be beneficial for solving that problem.
The antioxidant that’s found within cranberries is called proanthocyanidin. When your body has more of these, it eliminates bacteria from your urinary tract. That also helps your body to prevent any further problems. Too many cranberries over a long period of time could cause problems such as kidney stones, but we will discuss those a little later on.
The amount of antioxidants that you find in cranberries not only help the “end” of your digestive system, but also the very beginning. Cranberries are very good for your oral health, since most of the problems caused in your mouth are the result of bacteria. Even thing from gingivitis to bad breath happens because of a buildup of bacteria, and there’s only so much that brushing can do at the end of the day or beginning of the morning.
Bacteria can be erased thanks to the antioxidants in cranberries, and that will also help prevent serious problems down the road such as mouth cancer. Another added bonus, cranberries are mostly made from water, which will be good if you suffer from dry mouth. Of course, you should always be brushing your teeth and flossing on top of eating cranberries, but every little bit helps in the long run.
Good For the Heart
Those antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that you get from cranberries translate into a lot of good things, including for your heart. Add in the fact that cranberries have plenty of polyphenols, and you’ll be experiencing better heart health in no time. There has been a link between polyphenols and cholesterol levels, with those that get more experiencing lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher HDL (good) cholesterol.
Researchers have also noted that the most effective way of helping your heart is by eating the entire berry, and not just the inside. So for those that are trying to take more extracts or drink cranberry juice, you’re better suited eating the berries. The anti-inflammation portion of cranberries also lower your chances of heart disease and stroke down the road, making it an all-around great fruit.
The antioxidants that you find in cranberries can also help fight diseases such as cancer. Since these antioxidants will attack free radicals in your body, you’ll lower your chances of contracting a serious illness like cancer. In fact, cranberries have been linked at lowering the growth of tumors and cancerous cells in certain types of cancers that include breast and colon forms of cancer.
You’ll also see an almost immediate improvement to your immune system’s efficiency, thanks to the high content of vitamin C. People will often tell you to take more vitamin C when you’re starting to feel sick, and it’s good advice since your body will develop a better ability to fight off invaders. Most people think of oranges when it comes to vitamin C, but cranberries are also very helpful.
People always think of urinary tract health when it comes to cranberries, but they don’t get enough credit for the digestive system. Since cranberries are high in fiber, your digestive health will become more efficient. That helps you to boost your metabolism, feel more regular with less constipation and even fight off colon cancer. It’s estimated that a majority of Americans aren’t eating enough fiber, which is nearly 50 grams per day.
Summing it Up
Dried cranberries are going to have plenty of negatives that come along with it thanks to the sugar content, but most of those aren’t present in raw cranberries. There are a couple of things you need to know, however. Cranberries provide the body with a lot of vitamin B12, which could result in an overdose that affects people with gastritis. This could make the stomach lining inflamed, causing issues that need to be treated.
The one problem that more people seem to know is the increased chances of kidney stones if you eat more cranberries. This fruit has been shown to have plenty of oxalates that affect your urinary system, especially if you’ve already experienced kidney stones. Other than those minor issues, you don’t have to worry much about eating cranberries, and just make sure you’re making the right choices. Enjoy this sweet fruit whenever you want, as you need multiple servings of fruit per day.