Many Americans consider cranberry sauce one of the key components to a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner. Whether you serve it whole berry or jellied, made from grandma’s secret recipe or simply opened from a can, it is sure to grace your table this holiday season.
For some, this is the only time of the year they eat cranberries. Why? This superfood doesn’t get the praise and attention that it should. It is more than just a delicious side dish. Cranberries are loaded with health-promoting antioxidants.
Numerous studies have shown the benefits of eating cranberries. These include protection against UTIs, anti-inflammatory benefits, immune support, cardiovascular benefits, antioxidant protection, anti-cancer benefits and digestive tract benefits. The key to getting as much nutrients as possible is eating the entire berry.
The most common reason Americans eat cranberries and drink cranberry juice is to fight and prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), but did you know the anti-inflammatory properties of cranberries can help lower your risk of periodontal disease? If you are the type of person that hates going to the dentist then you might want to consider adding cranberries to your diet to help lower your risk of periodontal disease and those dreaded dental procedures.
The benefits of cranberries don’t stop there. Antioxidant components of cranberries also hold the key to cardiovascular benefits. This includes a decreased risk of high blood pressure and the lowering of LDL-cholesterol while increasing the levels of HDL-cholesterol.
The biggest studies in the last 10 years show cancer-preventive benefits of cranberries in breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer. It is the phytochemicals in the berries that inhibit the growth and proliferation of several types of tumors.
Fresh cranberries have the highest levels of nutrients. They are harvested in September and October and can mainly be found in grocery stores between October and December. This is perfect timing to add nutrients to holiday meals in a delicious fashion. November 23 is National Eat a Cranberry Day which gives you the perfect opportunity to try out new cranberry recipes before Thanksgiving.
For some great cranberry recipes including Cranberry Delight, Sherried Acorn Squash & Cranberries and Sweet and Salty Cranberry Clusters, visit MilitaryShoppers Recipes page. Or try this cranberry pound cake with orange glaze by jen miller here.
When choosing the perfect cranberries for these recipes, make sure to look for plump ones that are deep red and firm to the touch. These optimal berries are more highly concentrated with anthocyanin compounds which give you the most benefits. While many fresh fruits and vegetables have a short shelf life, cranberries can be stored in the refrigerator for around 3 weeks. If you want to try out a few more recipes before the big family dinner, the long shelf life will allow you to keep batches longer.
Cranberry season is very short so you may want to stock up and freeze them in groups. You can find dried and frozen cranberries year-round as well as cranberry juice. Remember that most benefits come from eating the whole berry so while drinking cranberry juice will provide nutrients, you won’t be getting all the benefits of this superfood.
Make the most of this season and eat fresh cranberries while they are at their peak. You can simply pop a few on top of your morning oatmeal or pack a small bag with your children’s lunch to add a few more into your diet. If you’ve always been the “open a can of cranberry sauce” kind of person, hopefully this information on cranberry health benefits will motivate you to try a new recipe or at least add a few more cranberries to your day.
The George Mateljan Foundation’s website says it best: adding cranberries to your diet can “help make every day throughout the year a holiday from disease.”