Cranberries are juicy, soft, round, and red-colored berries that are both bitter and sour in taste. These berries, grown from green vines, are filled with salicylic acid, essential vitamins, and various rich plant compounds, and contain a good number of health benefits like maintaining the overall functioning of the different parts of your body and preventing diseases like infections in your urinary tract, and for treating conditions like kidney stones, enlarged prostate gland, preventing fever and the common cold, and many others.
All You Need to Know About Cranberries:
Cranberries are a species of berries that are much closer to the classes of blueberries, raspberries, bilberries, and lingonberries. Cranberries are mostly grown in the form of creeper vines. Cranberries are mostly consumed either in the form of juice, or they are often consumed as sauces, jellies or are dried and grinded into fine powders. This is done because cranberries can be rarely eaten raw due to their sharp and sour taste.
Nutrient Contents in Cranberries:
A major portion of freshly- picked cranberries is filled up with water (almost 90%), while the rest portions are occupied by carbohydrates, fiber and essential vitamins.
Almost 1 cup or 100 grams of raw, unsweetened, and fresh cranberries contain the following nutrients: (1)
- Calories: 46
- Carbohydrates: 12.2 grams
- Water: 87%
- Protein: 0.4 grams
- Sugar: 4 grams
- Fiber: 4.6 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- vitamin K1: 11% of the DV
- vitamin C: 26% of the daily value (DV)
- vitamin E: 20% of the DV
- copper: 15% of the DV
- 2 milligrams of sodium
- vitamin B6: 8% of the DV
- Ascorbic acid
Apart from these, cranberries are filled with essential plant compounds and important dietary antioxidants. Some of them are listed below:
- Quercetin: Cranberries are considered one of the most important fruit sources of quercetin and it is an essential antioxidant polyphenol in cranberries that are extremely beneficial for your health.
- Myricetin: Myricetin is a component belonging to antioxidant polyphenol in cranberries that comes with plenty of beneficial health effects.
- Peonidin: Peonidin and cyanidin are the two important components that are mainly responsible for deriving the rich red color in cranberry fruits. Cranberries are the most important fruits that store peonidin and it is a necessary component for your health.
- Ursolic acid: Ursolic acid is a triterpene compound that is essentially found in the skin of cranberries. Ursolic acid has strong anti-inflammatory effects and medicinal properties, for which they are used for preparing various traditional and herbal medicines.
- A-type proanthocyanidins: These components in cranberries are also known as condensed tannins. These are antioxidant polyphenols in cranberries that are significantly known to prevent diseases like UTIs.
Health Benefits of Having Cranberries:
1. Prevents Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
Cranberries are known to contain essential nutrients like some unique phytonutrients and one of the richest sources of health- beneficial substances called A-type proanthocyanidin or condensed tannins that can control and prevent the growth of several species of bacteria in your body that are responsible for causing urinary tract infection or UTIs mostly caused by a bacterium Escherichiacoli (E. coli) found in the intestinal walls of your body, which attaches itself to the inner surface of your bladder and urinary tract, especially among women. The A-type proanthocyanidins in cranberries help to prevent the growth of bacteria like E. coli and check its attachment to the lining of your bladder and urinary tract, causing severe infections in the urinary tract. Recent studies have revealed that those who had enough cranberries in their diets or used cranberry supplements could significantly lower the chances of developing UTIs (in both children and adults). But in many cases, it has been found that those who consume processed forms of cranberry, for instance as cranberry juice or as cranberry supplements, fail to intake the essential health substances from the cranberries, that is lost while processing. So, it is always advisable to consume those cranberry supplements that contain sufficient amounts of its nutrients like the essential A-type proanthocyanidins.
But cranberry extracts or cranberry supplements are not the only solutions to treat bacterial growths and infections in your body like UTIs. If your body develops infections like UTI, you should always take the advice of your medical caregiver.
2. Maintains A Healthy Heart
In today’s world, heart-related disorders are one of the most crucial concerns, especially in the case of older individuals. Cranberries contain significant amounts of several rich and powerful antioxidants like anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, and quercetin, which are known to cure various heart disorders like heart stroke, heart failure, cardiac arrest, and so on (2).
Recent studies show that cranberries contain health extracts that may help in the following ways:
- Lowering levels of LDL or bad cholesterol in aged people.
- Increasing the levels of HDL or good cholesterol.
- Prevents the oxidative functions in the presence of high LDL levels.
- Regulates cardiovascular health by maintaining the optimum diameter of your blood vessels and thus helps to reduce high blood pressure.
- Reduces the chances of inflammation in blood vessels by decreasing blood levels of homocysteine.
3. Prevents Stomach Ulcers and Cancer
Cranberries extracts are known to store essential plant compounds known as A-type proanthocyanidins, which can significantly lower down the chances of developing ulcers in your stomach or stomach cancer by preventing H. pylori from attaching to the lining of your stomach. (3)
Some Other Health Benefits of Cranberries:
Cranberries are known to contain large amounts of nutrients like anthocyanins that not only derive the rich dark red colour in cranberries but also help in the following functions:
- Prevents occurrences of liver disease.
- Lowers high blood pressure levels.
- Take care of your eyes and improve your vision.
- Improve cardiovascular health.
- Regulates proper gut health and proves the digestive system.
Apart from these, cranberry extracts also help to keep your mouth healthy and take your dental care by controlling the harmful acids in your mouth. It also protects your teeth from developing oral problems like cavities, gum disease, tooth decay, and even oral cancer. Cranberries also have compounds called proanthocyanidins, which could lower your chance of getting cancer, but more research is needed.
Some Precautions Regarding Cranberries
Cranberry contains a lot of essential nutrients that are not only important for your health but also help to maintain the overall fitness of your body. But still, there are some health risks with overconsumption of cranberries and some groups of people should avoid consumption.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women: Cranberry may not be safe as food for pregnant and breastfeeding women. So, they must refrain from having cranberries as a part of their diet.
Children: There is not enough information on whether cranberries are safe for the consumption of children. So, children should limit the consumption of cranberries in large amounts in their diet.
Aspirin Allergy: Cranberries contain high levels of salicylic acid that is much familiar to the composition of aspirin. So those who have an allergy to aspirin any other kind of similar classes of drugs must avoid having cranberries in large proportions.
Diabetes or High blood sugar: People with diseases like type-2 diabetes or with high blood sugar levels should limit the intake of cranberry, especially cranberry juice products because they contain added sugars or are sweetened with artificial sweeteners.
Kidney stones: Cranberry extracts contain a large amount of a chemical compound called oxalate. High consumption of such chemicals through cranberries or cranberry products can affect your kidneys by causing kidney stones.
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