The cranberry has long been associated with the holiday season, and no Thanksgiving feast would be complete without at least a few cranberry dishes. In addition to the delicious taste of the cranberry, however, this wholesome fruit has many important health benefits as well.
How nutritious is the cranberry?
The cranberry is very high in a number of important nutrients, in particular many important antioxidant vitamins. Nutritionists and other experts all talk about the many benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and cranberries are an excellent way to fit five servings a day of fruits and vegetables into even the busiest lifestyle.
One of the reasons that fruits like the cranberry are so much more effective than packaged vitamin pills is that fruits and vegetables contain a wide variety of nutrients, including the important phytonutrients which have been shown in study after study to lead to increased levels of health and fitness.
Other advantages of the cranberry
In addition to its role in optimizing overall health and fitness, the cranberry is thought to play a role in reducing the occurrence of urinary tract infection. The reason for this effect is thought to be the proanthocyanidins (PACs) contained in cranberries. These PACs have been shown to prevent certain types of bacteria, including dangerous E. coli, from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract.
In addition to helping to prevent urinary tract infections, the PACs contained in the cranberry are thought to help prevent gum disease and stomach ulcers, using the same anti-adhesion mechanism.
In addition to these important roles in good health, there is growing evidence that the phytonutrients and antioxidants contained in the cranberry and other fruits may help to protect against a variety of diseases, including such major killers as cancer and heart disease.
Antioxidants gain their healing power through their ability to fight the harmful effects of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are part of the normal processes of the cells of the body, but they can be quite damaging to health. Antioxidants work to mitigate the damage caused by free radicals, and therefore they are thought to play an important role in preventing degenerative diseases and even retarding the aging process.
Fortunately for those who want to include more cranberry products in their diet, these products are plentiful, inexpensive and available all year long. Fresh cranberries are available in many major grocery stores and supermarkets for much of the year, and when they are not available there are plenty of canned and frozen cranberry products to take their place.
In addition to fresh, canned and frozen cranberry, there are a number of excellent cranberry based products on the market. In addition to the cranberry sauce that is part of every traditional Thanksgiving celebration, there is cranberry juice and even cranberry pudding. With all these choices, it is easy to fit more cranberry into just about any diet. And with all the health benefits cranberries contain there is no reason not to enjoy more of this tasty treat.