The cranberry is a native to North America. The crop is grown commercially in the Northern USA, Canada, and Chile. This berry, customarily found on Thanksgiving dinner tables, has been identified with specific health-related properties. The main health benefits identified are:
· Lower risk of infections in the urinary tract
· Prevention of cancer (specific types only)
· A reduction in blood pressure. [See reference [i]]
Cranberries and Nutrition
Before we go on to look in more detail about what cranberry good for, we will look at the basic nutritional facts about cranberries. Cranberries are very sharp-tasting, and it is rare to find anyone who will eat them raw. More frequently the cranberry juice is used in a blend with other juices or used in sauce dried powder or some sort of extract. The primary nutritional facts for one cup (100 grams) of cranberries is as follows: [ii]
· 46 Cals
· 0.4 grams Protein
· 4.6 grams of Fiber
· 0.1 grams of Fat
· 12.2 grams of Carbs
· 4 grams of Sugar
· 87% Water content
Cranberries are a great source of vitamins, in particular, vitamin C. Apart from Vitamin C, they also contain:
· Vitamin E
· Vitamin K1
Cranberries and Urinary Tract Infection (UTIs)
The fact that cranberries can help with UTIs is accepted widely among medical professionals but is not universally accepted. Studies have been carried out to see if drinking cranberry juice or taking concentrated pills can prevent UTIs. Still, the tests have not been conclusive with some results indicating that cranberry juice helps, while others were stating they do not.
If we refer to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, they believe that these unsweetened cranberry juices and pills may make UTs less likely. Still, the dosage and length of time you need to continue with this treatment is not yet defined.[iii]
The British Medical Journal reported that a study in the UK had shown that drinking cranberry juice regularly seems to reduce the recurrence of UTIs. [iv]
Please note that Cranberries cannot cure a UTI, cranberries can only be used to help prevent them. The recommended method of curing this problem is through antibiotics (see your doctor
Cranberries and Cancer
One of the main types of cancer is stomach cancer, and it is caused by a particular bacterium attaching itself to the walls of the stomach. Cranberry juice can stop the bacterium doing this and is therefore seen as a useful preventative measure for reducing the chances of getting this type of cancer. The National Institute of Health says that drinking 500 ml of cranberry juice each day could play a significant part in reducing these bacterial infections.
No responsible source will say that Cranberry Juice Cures cancer. Cranberry juice is, at best, used for prevention.
Cranberries and Heart Disease
Cranberry juice is also helpful in fighting heart disease. It lowers bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol. A study also found that it made no difference if the cranberry was sweetened with sugar or artificial sweetener.[v]
We have seen so far that cranberry juice can be a beneficial source of prevention of Heart Disease, Cancer, and UTIs. It has immense health benefits. We will now move on to look at the ways that cranberries can be used as a food.
I am just going to list a few ideas for using cranberries in your everyday diet. Thoughts that you may not have considered what cranberry good for as far as recipes go.
Apple Walnut Cranberry Salad
Have you thought about adding Gorgonzola Cheese and cranberries to your walnut Salad? It works well.
Make a regular batch of brownies and add some cranberries to the mix, to add a tart-twist flavor to the regular brownies.
Cranberry Chicken in the Slow Cooker
Using your slow cooker to cook chicken, basted in cranberries
Oatmeal Cranberry Cheesecake Made into Bars
Use up your cranberry sauce with this delicious homemade bar.
Cranberry Apple Crumble
Are you looking for an alternative to the usual pie, then think about cranberry apple crisp.[vi]
You probably just associate cranberries with jars of cranberry sauce, cranberry juice, and very occasionally at the fruits stand, but have you ever considered growing them? The cranberry [plant is evergreen with oval leaves that are around half an inch long. Flowers will appear in June, and in September the berries should be ripe. Here is a guide to growing cranberries at home.
1. Select which variety of cranberry you want to grow. A good choice is "Howies."
2. Plant cuttings and seedlings during the autumn or springtime (up until the end of May).
3. Prepare the soil in your 4 foot by 8-foot plot.
4. Dig out the existing soil and replace with peat moss to 6 inches deep.
5. Mix in 1/2lb of bone meal and one pound of blood meal
6. When you are about to plant, soak the soil
7. If planting seedlings then leave one-foot gap between plants., if planting 3-year-old seedlings then leave a gap of 3-feet.
8. You could, of course, decide to grow the cranberries in a container. Check the plant's root ball and get a pot that is twice the size. Plants in pots need to be replaced every couple of years, whereas those planted out will just go on and on.
9. Keep the area surrounding the plant weed-free.
10. Your plant will start sending out runners who will eventually fill the plant bed
11. Control pests like cranberry fruit worm.
12. From year three begin to prune the runners as you want to encourage vertical growth.
13. If you planted a three-year-old seedling then the following autumn you should get your first harvest. If you planted one year old, you might need to wait for up to four years before getting a crop.
14. Enjoy your gardening[vii]
In this article, you have learned what cranberry good for, and about the health benefits of this vitamin filled berry. You have learned how it can be beneficial in preventing(not treating) some severe diseases. We have given you some ideas of different ways the cranberry can be used in your diet. Finally, now you appreciate the health benefits and the versatility of this berry, we went over how you can grow them in your garden. I hope you found all of this beneficial.
[i] MEDICAL NEWS TODAY - https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269142#
[ii] HEALTHLINE - https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/cranberries#plant-compounds
[iii] WEBMD - https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/cranberries-for-uti-protection
[iv] BMJ - https://www.mdedge.com/familymedicine/article/60116/womens-health/does-cranberry-juice-prevent-or-treat-urinary-tract
[v] WEBMD - https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20030324/cranberry-juice-fights-heart-disease
[vi] COUNTRY LIVING - https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g909/cranberry-recipes/?slide=8
[vii] WIKIHOW - https://www.wikihow.com/Grow-Cranberries