Cranberries: Here Is Why You Need This Superfood In Your Diet
Cranberries, belonging to the heather family, are closely related to blueberries, bilberries, and lingonberries.
The predominant species cultivated is the North American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), although other varieties can be found in the wild. Due to their tart and acidic flavour, cranberries are seldom consumed raw. Instead, they are commonly enjoyed as juice, usually sweetened and mixed with other fruit juices Cranberries are naturally abundant in antioxidants. Research has shown that cranberries have the highest phenol content (a powerful antioxidant) per ounce compared to other commonly consumed fruits.
Fresh cranberries have a high water content, accounting for about 90% of their composition. The remaining portion primarily consists of carbohydrates and fibre.
In a 1 cup (100 grams) serving of raw, unsweetened cranberries, you can find the following key nutrients:
Protein: 0.4 grams
Carbohydrates: 12.2 grams
Sugar: 4 grams
Fibre: 4.6 grams
Fat: 0.1 grams
Carbohydrates and dietary fibre
Cranberries primarily consist of carbohydrates and dietary fibre.
These carbohydrates mainly include simple sugars like sucrose, glucose, and fructose. The remaining portion of cranberries is composed of insoluble fibre, such as pectin, cellulose, and hemicellulose, which pass through the digestive system with minimal breakdown. Cranberries also contain soluble fibre. Consequently, consuming excessive amounts of cranberries may lead to digestive symptoms, such as diarrhoea.
Other essential elements
Vitamins and minerals are abundant in cranberries, particularly vitamin C, which stands out as a significant nutrient. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a primary antioxidant present in cranberries. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of your skin, muscles, and bones.
Manganese, an essential mineral, is found in various foods, including cranberries. It is necessary for proper growth, and metabolism, and supports your body's antioxidant defence system.
Cranberries also contain vitamin E, which belongs to a group of essential fat-soluble antioxidants. Another vital vitamin found in cranberries is vitamin K1, also known as phylloquinone. Vitamin K1 plays a crucial role in blood clotting, ensuring that wounds heal properly. Furthermore, cranberries provide copper, a trace element that is often deficient in the Western diet. Overall, cranberries offer a rich array of vitamins and minerals that contribute to various aspects of your health and well-being.
Cranberries offer a significant supply of vitamins and antioxidants, contributing to overall health and well-being. Cranberries possess numerous potential benefits, which may include:
Traditional treatments for UTIs have often included the use of cranberries. Cranberries are rich in antioxidant proanthocyanidins (PACs), which can potentially prevent certain bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract walls. By doing so, cranberries may help in the prevention of UTI infections.
However, research on the effectiveness of cranberries in treating UTIs has yielded conflicting results.
Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease
Incorporating cranberries into your diet may be beneficial in managing various risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD). These factors include systolic blood pressure, which refers to the pressure exerted on the blood vessels during the contraction of the heart muscle.
Supplementing with cranberries could lead to a reduction in body mass index (BMI) and an improvement in levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), commonly known as "good" cholesterol.
Furthermore, consuming a daily dose of a low-calorie cranberry beverage rich in plant compounds resulted in improved blood sugar regulation, reduced markers of inflammation, and increased levels of HDL lipoprotein.
Improving oral health
Cranberries possess PACs that can contribute to better oral health. PACs, present in fruits such as cranberries, can offer protection to teeth by combating a strain of bacteria responsible for tooth decay. Furthermore, cranberries have been identified as a potential aid in the prevention of gum disease.
Reduces blood pressure
Cranberry juice is rich in potassium, a well-known agent for lowering blood pressure. It helps maintain the body's fluid balance and ease the burden on the heart, effectively preventing hypertension.
Promote inflammation reduction
The abundant antioxidants found in cranberries, particularly anthocyanins and flavanols responsible for their deep colour, contribute to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Antioxidants have demonstrated the ability to decrease the likelihood of specific chronic ailments by combating inflammation within our bodies. That's why it is advisable to incorporate an adequate number of fruit and vegetable servings into our diet, as these foods are rich in antioxidants.
Promote digestive well-being
Incorporating cranberries into your diet, especially if you follow an animal-based diet, can contribute to the growth of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system. Cranberries contain unique compounds called A-type proanthocyanidins, which have the potential to decrease the presence of harmful microbes in the colon.
Cranberries possess a wealth of nutrients and antioxidants, making them a valuable addition to a balanced diet. Their consumption is associated with various health advantages, such as promoting oral health, reducing the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs), and potentially aiding in cancer treatment. While incorporating cranberries into one's diet is generally safe for the majority of individuals, it is advisable for pregnant women or individuals taking blood thinners to consult their healthcare provider before significantly increasing their cranberry intake.
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