There’s no doubt that cranberries have exceptional health benefits — but the benefits may be different than what you think. With a growing body of research, here’s a breakdown of the latest findings on cranberries, along with tips for including more cranberries in your diet.
If you’ve heard cranberries referred to as a superfood, it’s because they have a higher antioxidant capacity than strawberries, spinach, broccoli, grapes, apples, raspberries, and cherries. Coupled with high amounts of anti-inflammatory nutrients, these powerful berries are strong contenders for the prevention of certain cancers, including breast, colon, brain, oral, ovarian, prostate, and esophageal cancer.
One of the lesser known characteristics of cranberries is the nutrient composition that makes them good for your bones. In addition to antioxidants, cranberries contain vitamin C, manganese, and vitamin K — all of which support bone health.
Like other red fruits and vegetables, the phytochemicals that give cranberries a ruby color can help reduce blood pressure and lessen the risk of heart disease.
Cranberries have long been associated with preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs) because of their high levels of proanthocyanidins (or PACs for short). PACs help keep bacteria off the walls of the urinary tract, thus preventing infection. However, researchers at Yale University recently led a year-long study that showed daily cranberry capsule consumption did not prevent UTIs from occurring. While other studies have also suggested that cranberry capsules and juice should not be recommended for preventing or treating UTIs, few have been as large and definitive as the Yale study.
In the kitchen
If anything, we should celebrate fresh cranberries not just because they’re a low-calorie, high-fiber fruit packed with antioxidants, but because they add an incredible tang to sauces, baked goods, and salads. Here’s how to shop, store, and cook with this seasonal power berry.
In the store: Fresh cranberries are sold bagged in Hy-Vee produce departments from October through December. Look for firm berries with a smooth, shiny, dark red color.
Stocking up: When fresh cranberries go on sale, fill your cart. Generally, they last about four weeks in the fridge, but you can freeze unopened bags of cranberries for about a year. That means you can make fresh cranberry bread and muffins year-round.