The Cranberries: Nature, our loving mother, took care of us, generously endowing us with a huge selection of medicinal and nutritious plants. Getting acquainted with the composition and effects on the body of almost every edible representative of the plant kingdom, one can only marvel at the foresight and abundance of Nature.
Cranberries are one of the most famous berries rich in medicinal properties. These blood-red, juicy fruits with a bright tart taste have earned respect by right – few plants can boast of such healing effects.
Last Updated: January 20, 2022 (A few hours ago…)
You can find out what are the benefits of cranberries, how to use them better, and what this berry is, in this article. Read profitably!
There are contraindications, a specialist consultation is required
What kind of cranberry is this?
These are the fruits of an evergreen shrub of the Heather family, which grows in the Northern Hemisphere of our planet, mainly in swampy areas. In Russia, marsh cranberries are more common, and large-fruited cranberries are usually used for cultivation.
This juicy and fantastically healthy berry is usually harvested either in late summer or early autumn, or after the first frost. In the second case, the fruits have time to ripen to the end and be filled with all the nutrients and healing substances inherent in cranberries.
After the winter experienced, the berry becomes sweeter, but it can only be stored frozen. But if cranberries are harvested at the very beginning of autumn, then their fresh storage period can be calculated in months.
How to store cranberries
Before storage, it must be sorted out, leaving only strong berries, put on baskets or wooden boxes and kept at a temperature not exceeding 10 ° C. It is important that the storage areas are dry and ventilated.
Cranberries can be stored in water – put them in glass jars, pour them over with cooled boiled water and put them in a cool place (for example, on a balcony or in a refrigerator).
Frozen berry retains most of its beneficial properties. Just place one berry at a time on a tray, put it in the freezer, and after freezing, transfer it to bags. You can store cranberries in this form for up to two years.
There is another storage method – sugar, but this option can override the benefits of berries due to the harm of sugar. Therefore, we recommend that you use, if possible, the first three.
The benefits of cranberries are varied, and besides, this berry tastes very good. Therefore, if you are lucky enough to live near the growing places of this berry, be sure to find time to harvest.
By the way, it is called a crane, or a crane. Interestingly, in English, cranberry is called a crane berry – cranberry (“cran” – ‘crane’, “berry” – ‘berry’). There is a beautiful legend explaining the origin of these names.
The Legend of the Cranberry: The Legend of the Valiant Cranes
In ancient times, an attack by foreigners was being prepared against one village. The forces were unequal. The owners of the land did not have a chance to repel the attack, so it was decided to hide on an island near the village where the cranes lived.
The enemy was unable to overcome the swamp that surrounded this island, and used arrows to destroy the hiding villagers. And then the cranes rose up, shielding the people, taking the blow of the enemies on themselves … Droplets of blood of selfless cranes turned into bright red berries, which, like cranes, still protect people from various diseases.
Where does cranberry grow
In nature, this berry grows in damp places: in swamps, in sphagnum coniferous forests, as well as on the swampy shores of lakes. They began to cultivate it in the second half of the last century, there are cranberry plantations both in Russia (Karelia, Kostroma, Arkhangelsk regions) and in Belarus, USA, Canada, Poland, Finland and other countries.
What properties does cranberry have? It turned out to be interesting not only for ordinary people, but also for scientists. For several decades, the health effects of the use of crane berries have been studied, and we will share the results of some of these studies with you.
How is cranberry good for the body?
In recent decades, Western medicine has become actively interested in cranberries. A large number of flavonoids and unique proanthocyanidins contained in berries have attracted considerable attention of researchers. These medicinal substances with antioxidant properties are able to protect against many diseases.
Currently, the evidence of the properties of cranberry berries to protect against several bacterial pathogens, cancer, cardiovascular, endocrine diseases and inflammation is undeniable for science, and now both neuroprotective properties and antiviral activity have begun to attract the attention of scientists.
Consider several well-known and scientifically proven properties of this wonderful berry.
Cranberry improves vascular and heart health
Researchers in Canada have found that eating cranberries can help lower total blood cholesterol, as well as “bad” cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
In turn, berries increase the level of good cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein (HDL). This was demonstrated in their 2008 study by Taiwanese scientists.
Thanks to these effects, there is a decrease in the risk of heart attack, chronic cerebral ischemia and coronary heart disease.
Cranberry Prevents Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common bacterial infections, affecting mainly women. Official medicine treats them with antibiotics, which have a rather impressive list of side effects. Unfortunately, despite antibiotic therapy, UTIs often recur.
Two centuries ago, this useful berry gained fame as a remedy for urological infectious diseases. She is quite often the subject of scientific research in this medical field. The effectiveness of the use of berries to exclude recurrence of UTI has been confirmed by numerous studies.
For example, in 2008, researchers compared the effect of taking 500 mg of cranberry extract daily with the effect of taking an antibiotic given for UTIs. As a result of the experiment, the scientists concluded that the antibiotic had “a very limited advantage over cranberry extract in preventing recurrence of UTIs in older women and had more side effects.”
Cranberry protects against viruses and bacteria
The well-known claim that this berry has powerful antiviral properties has also been scientifically backed up by several studies.
One of them, held in 2013, evaluated the effectiveness of different types of berries against influenza viruses. Thanks to the polyphenols in its composition, cranberries have shown one of the best results. This “antiviral” list also includes blueberries and black currants.
The health-promoting ability of cranberries is related to its antibacterial activity due to the presence of type A proanthocyanidins (PACs).
Helps in the treatment of not only urological infections, but also infections of the gastric mucosa and oral infections.
As a result of oxidative stress, damage to the cells of the body occurs, which is fraught with the development of various diseases, as well as premature aging, cranberry berries slow down this process.
Differs in a high content of phenolic compounds, with antioxidant activity. Such compounds can support the body’s natural antioxidant defense system, preventing damage caused by oxidative stress.
Therefore, it is recommended to use cranberries for the prevention of atherosclerosis, hypertension and cancer, the etiology of which is directly related to oxidative stress.
Prevents the development of 17 types of cancer
It is rich in biologically active components that inhibit the invasion – inhibit the activity – of cancer cells.
Cranberry Research Review. conducted in 2016, revealed the positive effects of the berry or components derived from it against 17 types of cancer using various in vitro methods (in vitro).
In vivo studies (in living organisms) have confirmed the inhibitory effect of the berry against cancer of the esophagus, stomach, colon, bladder, prostate, as well as glioblastoma and lymphoma.
And this is far from the only study supporting the anti-cancer effects of cranberries.
Has a beneficial effect on the intestinal microflora
The importance of a balanced gut microbiota cannot be overstated. The cranberry has managed to show itself in the best possible way here too.
Whole Cranberries Shown Anti-Inflammatory Effectiveness in 2019 Study and its positive effect on the structure of the gut microbiota by increasing the number of potentially beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and decreasing the number of potentially harmful bacteria such as Sutterella and Bilophila.
Bonus: how are cranberries good for women?
A child, man, woman, and even an animal can benefit from eating this berry. However, for women’s health, berries can be especially relevant, and here are the cases.
- Due to its high antioxidant activity and detoxifying properties, the crane berry has a rejuvenating effect that most modern women are striving for, which is why cranberries are also used for cosmetic purposes.
- Since infectious diseases of the urinary tract occur in women ten times more often than in men, this berry can become a good helper for many women in maintaining their health. Crane berry has been used for the prevention and treatment of urological pathologies for a long time, it says a lot.
- The benefits of cranberries during pregnancy should also be considered. Such a rich composition of micro- and macroelements and other important nutrient, antimicrobial and immunostimulating substances will be very useful both for the full development of the baby and for maintaining the health of the expectant mother.
This berry can reduce symptoms of toxicosis in the early stages. But before consuming cranberries in significant amounts during pregnancy, it is important to check with your doctor!
What vitamins does cranberry contain?
The vitamin composition of berries is rich in various substances important for health.
It contains all the B vitamins; cranberries are especially rich in biotin, or vitamin B7 (only 100 g of cranberries contain double the daily requirement of this vitamin). This substance is necessary for the production of certain fats and amino acids.
With its deficiency, the health and beauty of hair and nails is severely affected, so if you need to strengthen your nails and hair, try cranberries!
The composition includes the following vitamins:
- Vitamin C (17% of the daily value in 100 g);
- vitamin A
- and beta-carotene.
From macro- and microelements, berries contain:
- manganese (18% of the daily value in 100 g),
- cobalt (14% of the daily value in 100 g),
- copper (6% of the daily value in 100 g),
- potassium (5% of the daily value in 100 g),
- silicon (5% daily value in 100 g),
- magnesium (4% of the daily value in 100 g),
- iron (3% of the daily value in 100 g).
Additionally, berries include:
- Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids,
- organic acids,
- dietary fiber and other substances.
Cranberries: medicinal properties and contraindications
Berries have the following medicinal properties:
- has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal effects;
- protects against diseases of the urinary tract, helps to cope with them; is a diuretic;
- has a detoxifying effect on the body;
- is a prebiotic – promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines;
- has anticoagulant properties – it thins the blood and reduces the risk of blood clots;
- has an anti-cancer effect – it stops the growth of cancer cells and helps to destroy existing ones;
- strengthens and heals the cardiovascular system;
- lowers blood sugar levels;
- cleanses the liver and blood vessels;
- balances the level of cholesterol in the blood;
- improves the digestive system, choleretic berry;
- strengthens the immune system.
Treatment with berries, despite their natural origin, should be under the supervision of a physician .
If you use it regularly and in large quantities for non-medicinal purposes, then you must first consult with a specialist .
Contraindications to use:
- exacerbation of gastrointestinal diseases;
- stomach ulcer;
- acidity gastritis (hyperacid gastritis);
- obstruction of the biliary tract;
- inflammatory processes in the liver and gallbladder;
- the use of certain medications, for example, anticoagulants, which reduce blood clotting;
- individual intolerance.
Is it possible to eat cranberries for pregnant women and children
It is better not to give cranberry berries to children under 3 years old, since the digestive functions in babies are just being formed, and the acids in the berries can disrupt the digestive process.
During pregnancy, the crane berry, with its enormous healing and nutritional potential, can be very helpful, but be sure to consult with a specialist who is leading your pregnancy.
And if you are a nursing mother, be very careful when consuming this berry.
Cranberries: How To Eat For More Benefits
Now it’s time to figure out how best to apply it. Fresh, frozen, dried, even thermally processed berries are very useful.
The recommended daily intake for an adult is 80-100 g.
It is not recommended to use on an empty stomach.
Of course, it is ideal when the berries are eaten fresh. If it seems too sour for you, then keep in mind that it goes well with honey. It is often consumed with sugar, but, as we wrote above, sugar itself is quite harmful, you should, if possible, avoid.
With fresh or frozen berries, you can make great-tasting, amazingly healthy smoothies. For example, with the addition of banana and honey or with the addition of flaxseed, pumpkin, sesame seeds, pre-soaked overnight. Berries can be added to homemade ice cream.
Juice can be made from fresh cranberries, but it is advisable to dilute it with water.
Fruit drinks, compotes, jelly, preserves, syrups, jellies, jams, marmalade, candied fruits, casseroles, pies and even salads – all this can be prepared from medicinal crane berries. Pick up recipes with crane berry and gradually introduce them into your diet on a regular basis, if you have no contraindications.
In the pantries of nature, we can find hundreds of available life-giving representatives of the flora, but among them there are especially bright “stars”. One of them includes cranberries, the healing properties of which have become recognized by official medicine.
“Your food should be medicine, and your medicine should be food.”
– said the great Hippocrates. And it is in our power to compose our diet in such a way that food becomes for us the prevention of diseases, and not a trigger for their development.