Cranberries, the delicious superfood most of us have heard of and either eaten or drunk the juice of at some stage. Perhaps you have slathered cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving turkey, enjoyed them dried in your granola or as a mixer with a summer drink. However you have consumed them, the fact remains - this tangy little berry is an absolute powerhouse of nutrition and has numerous health benefits backed by science.
So what exactly are cranberries, where do they come from and what are their health benefits? Let’s find out.
Where Do Cranberries Come From?
Cranberries are oval or slightly pear-shaped berries that can be pink, bright red or cherry red in color. They are unusual in that they grow in quite a different environment from other berries such as strawberries and raspberries. Contrary to public perception, cranberries are not grown in water. As per our friends at Ocean Spray:
“One of only three fruits native to North America, cranberries grow in the wild on long-running vines in sandy bogs and marshes. While they're primarily harvested in the Northeast, cranberries also grow in other parts of North America, like Wisconsin and the Pacific Northwest, and in Chile.”
Cranberries are harvested from mid-September through to early November. The most effective method of harvesting cranberries is to flood the marshy or boggy areas where they grow. The air within the fruit causes the berries to rise to the surface of the water, water reels (similar to egg beaters) are churned through the water to gently dislodge the berries from their vine.
Why Are Cranberries So Good For Us?
So what makes cranberries a superfood and why are they so beneficial to our health? Simply put, there are several reasons why you should add them and their by-products to your diet.
- Contain high levels of antioxidants which help our bodies fight off free radicals (toxins we come into contact with that can damage our cells).
- Contain high levels of proanthocyanidins (PACs) which helps to stop bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls. Thereby helping to prevent urinary tract infections.
- Support better cardiovascular health by helping to regulate blood sugar, reduce inflammation and increase the body’s levels of HDL or ‘good cholesterol. Good cholesterol helps our bodies break down and eliminate ‘bad cholesterol’.
- Have performed well in clinical studies for cancer treatment. Cranberry compounds were shown to trigger the death of cancer cells, slow their growth, and reduce associated inflammation.
- Can give you a healthier smile! The PACs can inhibit the binding of cavity-causing bacteria to teeth. They may also aid in the prevention of gum disease.
- Contain vitamins C, E, K, B (as folate), and A, as well as minerals such as iron, zinc, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous among others. This combination works to boost your immune system and helps keep your body healthy.
Ways To Consume Cranberries
If you want to incorporate the benefits of cranberries into your everyday diet, there are numerous ways in which this can be achieved. Far from being limited to a glass of juice or handful of dried berries, there are a number of ways in which to consume them. All are easily accessible and offer enhanced health and wellness benefits.
Cranberry juice is delicious and versatile. An 8 ounce serving of cranberry juice provides 39% of your daily recommended vitamin C allowance. Drink on its own or as a mixer, add it to smoothies, create glazes for ham and turkey or syrup for pancakes, there are so many ways to use cranberry juice.
Partially dehydrated cranberries have a similar size and texture to that of raisins or sultanas. They are a great, healthy snack that provides a sweet, tangy taste and added flavor to granola and muesli bars. They can also be added to your favorite baking such as in muffins, cakes, and bread.
Jellies And Jams
Make homemade cranberry jelly and jam from fresh cranberries and enjoy with your thanksgiving roast or Christmas ham. The tart jam is the perfect accompaniment to heavy or oily dishes, adding a crisp freshness and unique flavor.
Cranberry Seed Flour
This relatively new and exciting innovation takes the seeds of the cranberry and grinds them into a fine powder for baking. This regenerative approach takes the seeds from cranberry waste created through juicing and repurposes them as flour. Using the waste in this way is a win for sustainability, making cranberry seed flour great for our health and for the planet.
Use Cranberry seed flour as a replacement in baking and eliminate high-allergen alternatives such as almond flour or wheat flour.
Sprinkle the whole seeds on toast, into cakes and muffins mixes, add to granola, muesli bars, and more! Think of and use cranberry seeds in the same way you would use chia seeds, another exceptional superfood.
Cranberry supplements are made from dried and powdered cranberry fruit. They are highly concentrated and particularly effective in this form as a treatment for urinary tract infections and support for kidney health. They can be safely taken alongside other forms of cranberry each day, though always be mindful to not consume in excess as this can lead to stomach upset.
No matter how you choose to include cranberries in your diet, you can be assured that this amazing fruit will contribute positively to your health and general wellness.
Just Another Fresh Idea From Beyond The Equator
We’ve promised you continual innovation and our new offering of cranberry seed flour and a cranberry seed shaker exemplifies this. We are excited to bring you these new products that offer exceptional health benefits whilst also being sustainable and full of flavor.
We know that living a healthy life free of allergens and unnecessary additives is not always simple. However, with our growing range of nutritionally dense, allergen-free ingredients, we hope to make it easier to enjoy the foods you love without compromise.
That’s the Beyond The Equator promise. Shop our new range today!