Berries are naturally appealing, little sweet and sour bursts of deliciousness. They are also one of the most healthy foods we can eat. Cranberries, in particular, are seriously beneficial to health. Loaded with antioxidants, essential vitamins, and minerals, they are one of the easiest and most delicious ways to add important nutrients into your daily diet.
What Are Cranberries Exactly?
Cranberries are the small, round, hard, red fruits of the cranberry bush. Native to Southern Canada and Northern USA, cranberries have been cultivated for hundreds of years. Cranberries are most closely related to blueberries and wintergreen, however, their flavor is quite different. Described by most as a sour and slightly bitter berry, cranberries are rarely eaten raw.
Despite their unusual taste, the North American variety of cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, is one of the only native fruits to be farmed on a commercial scale. They grow best in freshwater bogs and are most often harvested by flooding which causes the berries to float for easy collection.
History Of Cranberries
Far from being harvested only for consumption, Cranberries have a long history in the Native American community as a source of dye for fabric and jewelry, bait for traps, and as medicine. Following the European settlement of North America, they were widely used as a preventative for scurvy on long ocean voyages due to their high vitamin C content. Early pilgrims also regularly made a sauce from the sour berries to eat with meat, a tradition that is now carried through to Thanksgiving.
Widespread cultivation of cranberries began in 1816 and today, they are grown across over 40,000 acres in North America.
Health Benefits Of Cranberries
Native Americans understood the benefits of cranberries in great detail, they used them to treat a variety of ailments such as:
- Stomach cramps.
- Blood poisoning.
- Winter colds and flu and more.
In modern times, compounds found in cranberries and their seeds are known to be beneficial to our health in numerous ways including:
Urinary Tract Health
Cranberries contain high levels of the antioxidant proanthocyanidins (PACs) which help to stop bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract. Most effective against the bacteria Escherichia coli, cranberry can be used as a supplementary treatment for existing infection or as a preventative for those who experience recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Reduced Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease
The polyphenols found in cranberries have been shown to reduce blood pressure, particularly systolic blood pressure. This is the blood pressure that occurs during the contraction of the heart muscle. High blood pressure is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Cholesterol and obesity are two additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease and helpfully, cranberries help manage this too! Regular consumption of cranberry or cranberry supplements helps your body raise its levels of ‘good cholesterol’ (HDL) while also boosting your metabolism and burning fat.
Better Regulation Of Blood Sugar
Daily consumption of cranberry products can support your body to regulate its blood sugar levels more effectively. It does this by ameliorating insulin resistance, or in more simple terms, lowers your body’s insulin resistance so that sugar doesn’t build up in your blood. Insulin resistance is most commonly associated with type 2 diabetes.
Slowed Progression Of Cancer
Studies have shown that exposure of cancer cells to compounds found in cranberries slowed the growth of cancer cells, caused the death of some cancer cells, and reduced inflammation. In effect helping to stop the spread of cancer and keeping its growth to a minimum.
Improved Oral Health
Incredibly, the same antioxidant that helps your urinary tract fight off bacteria, proanthocyanidins (PACs), also helps to stop cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to your teeth. High levels of vitamin C in cranberries are also very beneficial to gum health and warding off periodontal disease.
A Happier Gut
For those of us who eat an animal-based diet, cranberries can help regulate gut health. Carbohydrates found in cranberries have been shown to boost the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Additionally, the presence of proanthocyanidins, isoprenoids, and xyloglucans found in cranberries helps to fight off bad gut bacteria.
So how do cranberries offer all of this in one tart red berry? Let’s look at the nutritional profile of cranberries to learn more.
According to Medical News Today, a single-serve of cranberries (around ½ a cup) contains:
- 25 calories
- 0.25 grams (g) of protein
- 0.07 g of fa
- 6.6 g of carbohydrate, including 2.35 g of natural sugar
- 2 g of fiber
- 4.4 milligrams (mg) of calcium
- 0.12 mg of iron
- 3.3 mg of magnesium
- 6 mg of phosphorus
- 44 mg of potassium
- 1.1 mg of sodium
- 0.05 mg of zinc
- 7.7 mg of vitamin C
- 0.5 micrograms (mcg) of folate DFE
- 35 international units of vitamin A
- 0.72 mg of vitamin E
- 2.75 mcg of vitamin K
In addition, they also contain the B vitamins vitamin B-1 (thiamin), vitamin B-2 (riboflavin), vitamin B-3 (niacin), and vitamin B-6.
Taking all this into consideration, it is no wonder that cranberries are so often referred to as a superfood. It is easy to see why they should feature regularly in your diet alongside other natural powerhouses such as chia, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, and flax seeds.
Beyond The Equator, Making It Easy To Incorporate Cranberries
At Beyond The Equator, we love finding innovative ways to make superfoods readily accessible and versatile. This is why we have created our newest addition to our allergy-free food range, Cranberry Seed Flour, and our cranberry seed shaker. Cranberry seeds contain a huge proportion of the nutritional benefits cranberries provide. Our Cranberry Seed Flour is free of the top 8 allergens and allows you to incorporate all the benefits of cranberries into a diverse range of meals.
From pancakes to cookies, waffles, and biscuits, our cranberry seed flour makes it easy to keep the nutritional profile of your favorite foods at its best. Zero compromises on health or taste, that’s the Beyond The Equator promise.