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Dried Cranberries: Benefits, Uses and Nutrition

The multiple contributions of fresh cranberries have long been known, such as disease prevention, antioxidant properties and digestive benefits. However, many people may find it too bitter or acidic. For those cases, there are other ways to consume it, such as in juice or dehydrated, so it is worth knowing the benefits of dried cranberries.

Like grapes, these fruits undergo a process where the water is removed for greater conservation. The result is a sweeter product, suitable for incorporating into muffins, cakes, salads and even eating as a healthy snack. Let’s see how it benefits health compared to the fresh berry.

What are the properties of dried cranberry?

It is the fruit that comes from Vaccinium plants, both in its red and blue variants, but after going through a drying process. It is known as freeze-drying, and it consists of freezing it and then drying it under vacuum, eliminating water and other components.

The procedure is similar to that used to make raisins, very popular in desserts, smoothies and pastries. Dried cranberries, for their part, can also be used in many ways in the kitchen. In addition, they retain most of the health benefits of fresh cranberries.

According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture, 100 grams of sweetened dried cranberries have the following nutritional values:

  • Calories: 308
  • Fiber: 5.3 grams
  • Water: 15.8 grams
  • Protein: 0.17 grams
  • Potassium: 49 milligrams
  • Iron: 0.39 milligrams
  • Total fat: 1.09 grams
  • Vitamin C: 0.2 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 82.8 grams
  • Manganese: 0.18 milligrams
  • Total sugars: 72.6 grams

Health Benefits of Dried Cranberries

During the drying process, the fruits lose a percentage of their nutrients, especially vitamins A and C. In addition, compared to fresh cranberries, they have more calories and carbohydrates, since sweeteners are usually added. However, the processes vary depending on the brand that markets them, so it is important to check the product labels.

A study published in the Journal of Food Science compared the nutrients of different presentations of berries. In particular, the juice, sauce and sweetened dry variants. The work suggests that pressing, canning, concentrating or drying techniques compromise some natural components through physical separation, thermal degradation or oxidation.

Among them, anthocyanins, a natural flavonoid with anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. Even so, it is clear that dried cranberries retain a considerable amount of proanthocyanidins. Therefore, the following benefits of the food may be maintained.

1. Contribute to better digestion

These fruits maintain their contribution of dietary fiber, among other nutrients, which is why they contribute to better digestion. This is stated in a 2016 study, which includes dried cranberries. In addition, fiber helps reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels and improve insulin sensitivity.

2. Reduce urinary tract infections

These are common infections, such as cystitis, that occur when bacteria enter the urethra. According to a study published in the Nutrition journal, consuming sweetened dried cranberries can reduce the incidence of these infections in susceptible women.

Another study defends the effectiveness of combining cranberry extract with antimicrobials derived from coconut oil and oregano essential oil. The publication maintains that they improve the eradication of common bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, the main cause of urinary tract infections.

In a more recent study, the effect of dried cranberry powder was investigated in women with overactive bladder. The results showed that taking 500 milligrams daily for 24 weeks reduced daily urination by 16.4% and urgency episodes by 57.3%.

3. Benefits of dried cranberries for cardiovascular health

The properties of the food reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension. A 2020 study suggests they may be effective in controlling body mass index and high-density lipoproteins, or “good cholesterol.” However, it is clear that more research is needed in this regard.

For its part, another study researched the effects of consuming cranberry powder for a month in 45 healthy men. The results indicated improvements in heart and blood vessel function.

4. Stop the expansion of cancer cells

A study published in 2018 suggests that the anthocyanins, procyanidins and flavonols in cranberries have potential effects on cancer prevention. These nutrients could slow the progress of cancer cells and prevent their spread, although more evidence is lacking in this regard.

5. Improve oral health

The proanthocyanidins present in cranberries have protective effects against oral diseases, such as cavities and periodontitis. It is due to anti-adhesive and antimicrobial properties that prevent bacteria from adhering to the teeth. However, it is another field of research in development, so it should not replace medical consultations and treatments for these conditions.

6. Promote kidney function

The antioxidants in dried cranberries contribute to the reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation of the kidneys. A 2019 study maintains that the natural compounds in these fruits inhibit the formation of kidney stones. Additionally, they promote healthy kidney function through hydration and urine flow.

7. Protect cells from oxidative stress

The antioxidant nature of this berry has given it the fame of a positive food for longevity. Anthocyanins delay oxidative stress and have repairing effects on cellular DNA.

According to a study published in 2018, cranberries can reduce inflammation, fight free radicals, and prevent cell damage. For this reason, they are also often recommended as beneficial fruits for the skin.

How to consume dried cranberries?

There are many ways to integrate them into your diet. Think of these fruits as alternatives to raisins, which can be included in both sweet and savory preparations. Although dried cranberries are available in markets and health food stores, it is also possible to prepare them at home with fresh specimens.

It is enough to wash them well and dry them carefully. Then, distribute them in a dish and bake them at no more than 60 degrees, with the oven door ajar. A minimum of two hours should pass, although, depending on the case, more time may be required. Check to check its condition. Once dehydrated, try them in the following ways:

  • Add them to a muffin or cookie mix.
  • Eat them as snacks along with other nuts.
  • Mix them with plain Greek yogurt and flax seeds.
  • Add a handful to a cereal, oatmeal or granola mix.
  • Prepare a Christmas turkey recipe with cranberry sauce.
  • Place them in salads. They combine well with quinoa, spinach and lemon.

Store the leftover fruits in an airtight glass container. Store it in a cool, dark, moisture-free cupboard for a maximum of 18 months.

Contraindications for consumption

It is important to remember that commercial dried berries are produced with added sweeteners. They can also include vegetable oil so that they do not stick, which increases their calorie content and makes it necessary to measure portions. Additionally, too much could cause bloating or constipation.

On the other hand, those who take anticoagulant medications, such as warfarin, should consult with their doctor beforehand about possible interference in the effects. Although it is considered a safe food, it is advisable that pregnant and lactating women and people with chronic stomach problems consult in advance.

Dried or fresh cranberries: which are healthier?

The benefits of dried cranberries are similar to those of fresh fruits. Both variants contain antioxidants, fiber and are rich in minerals such as iron and potassium. However, we must take into account the amount of sugar in dehydrated specimens, which can multiply the calories up to six times.

In addition, a good part of the vitamin A and C content is lost during the drying process, although to a lesser extent if the homemade recipe is applied. In short, incorporating cranberries into a balanced diet, whatever its format, has multiple benefits for cardiovascular, digestive, kidney and skin health. Just reduce the portion a little if it is nuts.

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