Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is small, red berry that is juicy and has a tart and tangy taste. They mainly grow in the wetlands and forests of North America. Dwarf shrub with tall dark green leaves 10 to 40 centimeters hiding small greenish fruit which when ripe obtain a dark red color. It gets pinkish white flowers in late May.
Cranberry is extremely resistant to cold and frost (can handle temperatures to – 40 ° C). It is widespread all over the temperate continental climate, all the way to the Arctic Circle.
Cranberries are used in folk medicine since the 16th century, which is not surprising because they contain many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and organic acids.
Besides being tasty, cranberries are also healthy, due to their high nutritional profile and antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cancer-preventing properties. They contain vitamins C, K, B6 and E, along with calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is important for the synthesis of collagen, carnitine and fatty acid metabolism.
Cranberries are low in calories, containing over 80 percent water and 10 percent carbohydrates. Among other constituents are dietary fiber, protein, salicylic acid, flavonoids, anthocyanins, and triterpenoids.
Health Benefits of Cranberries
Prevents Cancer – Cranberry contains proanthocyanidins, which inhibit the growth of various cancer cells. Studies have suggested that diets rich in flavonoids play a fundamental role in reducing the risk of cancer and cancer mortality. Cranberry juice contains anti-carcinogenic components that interfere with the growth of cancer cells, particularly those associated with colon and prostate cancer. According to studies, proanthocyanidins can stop micro-tumors from developing in the blood vessels. Regular consumption of cranberries prevents the rapid growth of tumors. Chemicals in cranberries also prevent the multiplication of breast cancer cells.
Boosts Immunity – The immune-support benefits of cranberries are exciting. They are high in vitamin C, the best antioxidant for good immune power. In addition, the phytochemicals in cranberries promote a healthy immune system. People with good immune systems are less prone to get the common cold and flu infections. Drink a glass of cranberry juice a day to reduce the chance of becoming sick.
Strengthens the Bones – Cranberries are a good source of calcium that helps strengthen your bones, teeth and nails. It also reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis.
The fruit is a good source of vitamin K, another important vitamin for overall bone health. Vitamin K helps retain calcium in the bone matrix, gives the bones higher resilience and prevents bone density loss. This in turn reduces the risk of fractures. One cup of raw cranberries or a glass of cranberry juice daily can play a key role in keeping your bones healthy and strong.
Treats Urinary Tract Infections – Scientific studies have proven that cranberries contain proanthocyanidins that possess anti-clinging properties, which prevent the bacteria from binding itself to the cells on the walls of the bladder. These compounds prevent these bacteria from multiplying and further and flush them out of the body through urination.
Improves Digestion – Cranberries are a rich source of fiber and hence promote digestive health. The fiber gives bulk to stool and facilitates quicker elimination of waste products from the gut. This helps prevent constipation. In addition, the anti-inflammatory benefits of cranberries reduce the risk of chronic inflammation in the stomach and large intestine.
Treats Lung Inflammation – The anti-inflammatory effects of cranberry juice have been proven to be effective against the inflammation caused in the lungs by the influenza virus. A substance called nondialyzable material or NDM present in the cranberries prevents the influenza virus from sticking to the cells and hence preventing a flu infection.
Protects the Heart – Cranberry juice can help lower the risk of heart related ailments and assist in sustaining cardiovascular health. The flavonoids present in cranberries have antioxidant properties and may decrease the threat of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a disease in which the arteries are narrowed due to the build-up of fat, calcium, and cholesterol found in the blood. This obstructs the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the various parts of the body and may lead to potentially fatal outcomes like heart attacks and strokes.
Slows the Aging Process – Cranberries are loaded with antioxidants that help combat the effects of aging. Antioxidants like vitamins C, B3 and B5 help the body get rid of free radicals that contribute to the aging process, as well as provide protection against damage caused by environmental factors. Regular consumption of cranberries can delay the degeneration of brain cells, skin cells and even organ tissue. Thus, it is helpful in delaying age-related memory loss and motor function decline.
Other cranberry health benefits
- prevents the growth of bacteria
- increased resistance
- protection of several types of cancer
- keeps eye health
- helps with gout and rheumatism
- protects against tooth decay and gum disease
Delicious tea can be made from cranberry and its preparation is very simple
Put a teaspoon herb or filter bag into boiling water, cover, and let it stand 5 to 10 minutes. Then strain the tea and drink it immediately while warm.
Cranberry tea is helpful for gout or rheumatism, and for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and cancer treatment. For the treatment of recurrent urinary tract infections use the dry cranberry extract powder, capsules or tablets.
Cranberry is not recommended for people who take medications for blood thinning.
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