Health

10 Health Benefits of Cranberries, According to Science (+9 Delicious Recipes)

Cranberries are cooked in abundance during Thanksgiving celebrations for sauces, drinks, and even desserts. But did you know that cranberries have been used, for centuries, in medicines as much as for food purposes? You’d also be surprised to know that frozen cranberries can be used for cooking salads, desserts, drinks, etc. for up to several years. All thanks to its high water content.

For you to incorporate more healthy fruits and vegetables in your diet, breaking the habit of eating unhealthy foods is mandatory. Only then can you pick up habits such as exercising and healthy eating without difficulty. And to do that, it is important for you to know certain health benefits of fruits such as cranberries for your body.

1. Drinking cranberry juice helps prevent urinary tract infections

Due to the high level of acidity and proanthocyanidins or PACs of cranberries, they play an important role in lowering the risk of urinary tract infections or UTIs. PACs are a special ground of compounds of flavonoids that are present in great amounts in cranberries juice.

Urinary tract infection is a self-diagnosable infection that occurs in the kidneys, the bladder, or urethra. If left untreated, it can lead to more severe infections in the kidneys, causing pelvic pain, nausea, difficulty in urination, and fever.

Much care and medical attention are required for preventing and treating urinary tract infections, especially for women as it is most common in women than men.

The compounds present in cranberry juice reduces the ability of fimbriae to attract to urinary tract cells. This doesn’t cause rapid bacterial infection which leads to UTI. (1,2)

To put into simple words, the flavonoid, proanthocyanidins prevent bacteria from growing rapidly and multiplying. Coupled with other nutrients present in cranberries such as vitamins, folate, and antioxidants, cranberries are crucial fruits for good urinary tract health.

Key Takeaway: Cranberries are quick and healthy fruits to keep bacterial infections at bay. It prevents the proliferation of urinary tract infections and also maintains a healthy immune system to fight unstable urinary tract conditions.

2. Cranberries help prevent some types of cancer

Studies show that the phytochemicals present in cranberries repress tumor growth in different parts of the body including the breast, colon, prostate, and lungs. These phytochemicals include oligomers, flavonol, triterpenoids, and anthocyanin glycosides.

They limit tumor growth by curbing its inflammatory responses as a possible chemopreventive measure for most cancer patients. (3)

Another study focused on the link between proanthocyanidin extracts and the inhibiting of cancer cells in different parts of the body. For example, one study suggests that this extract prevents the proliferation of lung tumors, colon and leukemia cells. It even has a positive effect on prostate carcinoma cells. (4)

So daily intake of cranberries as a part of your diet might be a healthy way to inhibit tumor proliferation. The different variations of phytochemicals present in cranberries can provide limit cancer cells from growing rapidly.

These phytochemicals have strong antioxidant properties that make it one of the most effective chemopreventive methods to protect against cancer. If not prevention, cranberries slow down the proliferation of tumors and cancer cells in different parts of the body such as the lungs, breast, and colon.

Key Takeaway: Cranberries benefit on cancer health by slowing down the development of tumors for lung, colon, breast, and prostate cancer. They’re also linked to reducing the inflammatory capacity of certain cancer cells that lead to major tumor growth in the human body.

3. The Vitamin E Present in Cranberries May Help Patients with Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, excessive body fat, and high glucose levels. All these serious factors lead to metabolic syndrome while causing cardiovascular problems and increasing your chances of diabetes.

Not one, but many factors can lead to metabolic syndrome. An unhealthy lifestyle alters the way your digestive system functions. This affects the way your body breaks down food into glucose for better absorption and metabolism. (5)

A new study throws light on vitamin E as the primary agent for preventing and treating metabolic syndrome. The study proved that people suffering from metabolic syndrome need more doses of vitamin E for immune protection.

Vitamin E deficiency often leads to cell damage, reduced neurological function, and the proliferation of atherosclerosis. (6)

According to this research, patients with metabolic syndrome need more 30-50 percent of vitamin E than healthy individuals. This puts them out of the danger of suffering from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

Vitamin E helps prevent abnormal insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and abdominal obesity in people with severe metabolic syndrome.

Key Takeaway: Cranberries contain good amounts of vitamin E that is the main nutritional component for treating metabolic syndrome in both healthy and unhealthy individuals. It curbs the natural symptoms of obesity, diabetes, and other cardiovascular diseases.

4. Cranberries Have Powerful Cognitive Benefits for People with Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by reduced brain function due to damaged and unhealthy brain stem cells. It often leads to dementia, memory loss, abnormal communications skills, etc.

It is also characterized by increased inflammation in brain tissues which slows down the cognitive function in AD patients.

A new study focused on restoring brain function in AD patients shows that resveratrol plays a positive role in restoring blood to brain barrier by dramatically decreasing neuronal inflammation. (7)

When there’s abnormal buildup of proteins in the brain, it causes inflammation that creates a sort of block between the proper bloodstream and the brain. Hence, the symptoms of AD are heightened. What resveratrol does is it increases the brain’s immune response which restricts damaged immune molecules to kill healthy neurons.

The adaptive and anti-inflammatory properties of cranberries due to its high resveratrol content is convincing enough prove that eating cranberries on a daily basis is characterized by reduced inflammation stress in the brain.

Lastly, resveratrol is a significant compound that fights bacterial infections, vascular dementia, and it also affects mortality rate in most individuals. It improves blood flow to different parts of the body, especially the brain, it affects cancer proteins, and improves heart rate variability. (8)

Key Takeaway: For protecting cognitive function and neurological function, daily doses of cranberries is very important. It contains resveratrol which may be useful as a primary prevention agent against Alzheimer’s disease.

5. Resveratrol Can Reduce Risk of Hormonal Imbalance in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a major endocrine system disease that affects only women. It causes extreme hormonal imbalance, abnormal menstrual periods, acne, excessive hair growth, and weight gain.

Proper diagnosis and treatment of PCOS can prevent the onset of diabetes, obesity, and other heart diseases. Another symptom that characterizes this condition is the presence of small fluid-containing follicles located in either one or both ovaries. (9)

Cranberries contain good amounts of resveratrol to limit the growth of testosterone levels in women with PCOS. It reduces the risk of infertility in women due to abnormal hormonal levels. Due to PCOS, certain women have higher testosterone and androgen levels than healthy women. This contributes to the excessive hair growth, weight gain, infertility, acne, and such serious conditions.

Due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of resveratrol, a daily intake can help reduce high testosterone levels. The study focused on 30 women with polycystic ovaries. They were given sufficient resveratrol supplements everyday for 3 months. The results showed a 23.1% fall in total testosterone levels and moderate androgen levels. (10)

Key Takeaway: Cranberries are good for women with abnormal hormonal levels, a leading cause of polycystic ovary syndrome. They contain resveratrol which is a polyphenol compound with strong anti-inflammatory properties.

6. Cranberries Have Plenty of Vitamin K to Fight Age-Related Diseases

Age-related diseases are many, so in order to prepare yourself for healthy aging certain nutrients are essential. In the case for cranberries, they contain plenty of vitamin K which promotes successful aging, study suggests.

One trial suggests that prolonged vitamin K and selenium deficiency can result in vitamin and mineral loss, causing severe age-related diseases in both men and women. (11)

Vitamin K provides sufficient immune protection against inflammation, heart diseases, and damaged brain cells.

Many factors such as arthritis, obesity, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, cancer, and mental health can be drastically affected due to aging. Hence, early prevention to manage such severe conditions is essential for a healthy lifestyle.

Eating cranberries for its high vitamin content is one of the most effective and healthy ways to prevent the onset of such chronic diseases. As you get older, your body’s immune system requires more and more nutrients to sustain. So healthy practices such as a daily intake of cranberry juice or in salads provide a lifetime of health care. (12)

Key Takeaway: Doing the right things such as eating cranberries everyday keeps your immune system healthy to fight against common age-related diseases such as diabetes, heart failure, cancer, arthritis, etc.

7. Cranberry Juice Can Suppress Harmful Stomach Ulcers

Stomach ulcers are often characterized by severe abdominal pain. It can also be a cause of indigestion, heartburn, and nausea.

Stomach ulcers are common among adults over the age of 60, but they’re can occur in children as much as in young adults.

Helicobacter pylori infection is one of the major causes of stomach ulcers, also known as peptic ulcer disease. If left untreated, it could lead to gastric cancer in individuals. Helicobacter pylori is a form of bacterial infection which along inflammation is the underlying cause of stomach ulcers. (13)

A trial conducted on 189 adults with helicobacter pylori infection revealed that an increased intake of cranberry juice suppresses the intensity of the infection in most individuals. (14)

Cranberry juice reduces the high amount of acid the stomach produces in order to kill fast-growing bacterias in the body. This will not only kill the prevailing bacteria, but prevent new bacteria from developing. Making your body immune to stomach ulcers and excessive inflammation.

Key Takeaway: Cranberry juice and extract have been proven to benefit people with stomach ulcers. It also suppresses harmful helicobacter pylori, a dangerous bacteria that affects the stomach lining.

8. The Phytochemicals Present in Cranberries Improve Dental Health

Dental health is one of the most disregarded aspects for most individuals. A healthy mouth is good for many reasons including tooth decay, bad breath, and healthy gums.

It is the most sensitive and exposed part of your body, so health care is essential to prevent diseases that might affect the rest of your body. There are many chronic diseases that can proliferate from the mouth, including mouth cancer, diabetes, HIV, and certain bone loss diseases. (15)

Cranberries contain powerful bioactive compounds such as phenolic acid derivatives, anthocyanins, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins. These compounds have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimutagen, and radical scavenging properties. They’re also commonly referred to as odontonutraceuticals. (16)

The biological and therapeutic properties of these compounds help prevent oral diseases. The derivatives of the word “odontonutraceuticals” comes from the word “odonto” that means tooth. And the term “nutraceuticals” means bioactive phytochemicals. (17)

According to reports, there are more than 500 types of bacteria that come in contact with your saliva, at any given time. This causes dental plaque and other serious gum infections such as periodontitis. This can lead to other chronic diseases such as high glucose levels, inflammation in the heart, and abnormal insulin resistance.

Key Takeaway: Exposure to environmental elements such as pollution, chemicals, etc. can lead to severe, but treatable gum diseases. However, regular consumption of cranberries can limit the development of such infections in healthy individuals.

9. Cranberries are Good Sources of Flavonoids for Optimal Cardiovascular Health

Cranberries have been of great help to most individuals. They affect the blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and insulin resistance in a healthy and positive manner.

One study conducted on adults with hypertension showed that a habitual intake of cranberries containing flavonoids reduces high blood pressure levels drastically. (18)

Another study considered the effects of multiple flavonoid compounds on heart diseases. These took into consideration factors such as lipoproteins, cholesterol, and flow-mediated dilatation. (19)

Cranberries are low-calories fruits with 90% of water content. So an increased anthocyanin intake was linked to an increased reduction in hypertension and LDL cholesterol levels.

The health-promoting cyanidin, quercetin, peonidin, proanthocyanidins, and anthocyanidin flavonoids prevent heart diseases and discourage inflammation in the blood vessels.

The polyphenols restrict plaque buildup on heart vessel walls while the antioxidant properties of these compounds reduce oxidative stress in blood pressure. All these factors play an important role in controlling heart diseases due to lack of exercise, high intake of fatty foods, and aging.

Key Takeaway: The effectiveness of cranberries in treating cardiovascular diseases is very popular because of its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces hypertension, cholesterol levels, and prevents abnormal insulin resistance in the human body.

10. The Anthocyanin Compound Present in Cranberries Improves Blood Pressure

After proving to be most beneficial for urinary tract infections, the second thing cranberries are most popular for are improving blood pressure. If you experience abnormal blood pressure levels from too high to too low, nothing beats the health-promoting strength of anthocyanin in cranberries.

It reduces arterial stiffness and controls central blood pressure in healthy individuals. A higher intake of anthocyanin in the diet can reduce central systolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, and pulse wave velocity. (20)

Another trial on people with hypercholesterolemia significantly decreased LDL and HDL cholesterol levels with an increased intake of this powerful compound. (21)

This also affected other contributive factors of high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels such as C-reactive proteins, soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, and inflammatory cytokines in the blood cell lines.

To get rid of high blood pressure symptoms faster, eating cranberries may help speed up your inflammatory recovery. Cranberry juice can help reduce systolic blood pressure levels, only if you eat them in moderate amounts.

Key Takeaway: Despite nutrient supplements, eating cranberries on a day-to-day basis can specifically treat high blood pressure levels and infectious cholesterol levels in the body. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory treatment can directly restrict the development of heart diseases for those people with abnormal blood pressure problems.

Some Recipes To Enjoy

Eating something your body will actually love you for instead of indulging in foods that are high in fat, sugar, and carbs. Cranberries are the most sought-after fruits for its low-calorie and high-water content. They make the best ingredient in your daily diet, and if you want to keep things more interesting, you can start with eating a bowl full of fresh cranberries to boost your metabolism and promote cognitive function.

If you’re looking forward to getting the most out of your cranberry-rich diet this year, start by incorporating these delicious recipes in your daily meals. Most of them can be made in just less than 30 minutes, and they’re excellent diet tricks to get you well-invested into your health.

For a healthy diet and body, you get your daily intake of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. It’s time you treat yourself with cranberries in more than just juices. So are you ready?

1. Almond and Cranberry Energy Bites

There’s no shortcut to energy bars, but this recipe will take all the stress away from incorporating healthy fruits in your diet and you’ll actually get the real taste of juicy cranberries.

Ingredients:

1 cup - oatmeal

1/3 cup - chopped almonds

1/3 cup - coconut, sweetened and shredded

1 tbsp - flaxseed

1/2 cup - peanut butter

1/4 cup - chia seeds

1/3 cup - chopped dried cranberries

Method:

  1. Bake almonds, oatmeal, and coconut shreddings for 10 minutes. Set aside.

  2. Melt peanut butter for 30 seconds in a microwave. Combine with baked almonds mix, honey, seeds, cranberries, and flaxseed. Ball 1 tsp or 1 tbsp of mixture into balls. Refrigerate and serve.

2. Kale Cranberry Vinaigrette Salad

Make this salad recipe once and you’ll never stop making it as a side order for all your filling lunch and dinner meals.

Ingredients:

3 tbsp - olive oil

1 - sliced shallot

3 - chopped garlic clove

1 cup - cranberries, dried

2 tbsp - vinegar

2 tsp - honey

1/2 - lemon juice

1/8 tsp - salt and pepper

1 handful - sliced kale

1/4 cup - almonds, sliced

Method:

  1. Heat shallots and oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Cook for 5 minutes. Combine garlic, cranberries, vinegar, lemon juice, and honey. Cook for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper.

  2. In a bowl, combine kale and olive oil. Add salt and mix until combined. Transfer cranberries mixture into the bowl and toss until evenly coated. Serve fresh.

3. Healthy Cranberry Bars

These health-driven cranberry bars are the perfect solution for fitness enthusiasts to get going before and after an intense workout session.

Ingredients:

1 cup - flour

1/2 cup - sugar, granulated

1 tsp - cinnamon

1/8 tsp - cooking salt

1/2 cup - butter, unsalted

For base:

1/2 cup - melted butter

1 cup - sugar, granulated

2 - eggs

3/4 tsp - almond extract

1/4 tsp - vanilla extract

1/4 tsp - cooking salt

1 cup - flour

2 cups - cranberries

For glaze:

1 cup - sugar, powdered

1/4 cup - almond extract

10 tsp - coconut milk

1/2 cup - sliced almonds

Method:

  1. Combine flour, cinnamon, sugar, and sugar in a bowl. Transfer into a blender and add the butter to blend. Set aside in a refrigerator.

  2. In another bowl, combine melted butter, eggs, almond extract, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Combine well.

  3. Add flour and cranberries. Mix well.

  4. Spoon 1 tbsp of mixture on top of the flour and cinnamon streusel. Bake for 35 minutes. Set aside.

  5. Meanwhile, combine all glaze ingredients in a small bowl. Spread over bars and store at room temperature for at least 3 days before serving.

4. Couscous Tfaya with Cranberries

This recipe comes straight from your childhood, but with a modern cranberry twist. It’s what makes the couscous taste so amazing.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup - couscous

½ cup - homemade vegetable stock

1 cup - chickpeas

1/3 cup - dried cranberries

1 - sliced red onion

1/2 cup - chopped cilantro

1 - lemon juice

1 - red pepper

1 tsp - cumin, powdered

1 tsp - coriander, powdered

1/2 tsp - pepper, cayenne

1 - minced garlic clove

2 tbsp - olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Cook couscous as per package instructions.

  2. Meanwhile, Combine oil, onions, and red pepper. Cook for a few minutes.

  3. Add cumin powder, coriander powder, and pepper. Cook for a minute. Next, combine with cooked chickpeas.

  4. Add salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Combine with lemon juice. Set aside.

  5. Add couscous with cranberries and mix well. If required, season with salt and pepper.

  6. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

5. Buttermilk and Cranberry Cake

Some might call this a delicious mistake, but it’s the easiest cranberry cake you’ll cook for the ideal celebratory feast.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup - butter, unsalted

1 - orange zest

1 cup - sugar

1 tbsp - sugar

1 - egg

1 tsp - vanilla extract

2 cups - all-purpose flour

2 tsp - baking powder

1 tsp - cooking salt

2 cups - cranberries

1/2 cup - fresh buttermilk

Method:

  1. Combine butter, orange zest, and 1 cup sugar. Set aside.

  2. Combine egg and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Combine well.

  3. Add together flour, salt, and baking powder. Next, combine with buttermilk and cranberries.

  4. Combine all mixtures together and transfer in a buttered baking pan. Bake in a 350 degrees oven for 45 minutes. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes. Serve fresh.

6. Cranberry Oat Bars

This cranberry recipe will be your favorite evening snack when you want something sweet and healthy that you’ll never grow sick of.

Ingredients:

2 cups - cranberries

1/2 cup - cane sugar

2 tbsp - orange puree or orange marmalade

2 tsp - fresh lime zest

1 1/2 cups - oats, rolled

1 1/2 cups - flour, almond

1 cup - sugar, coconut

1/2 tsp - fresh baking powder

10 tbsp - unsalted butter

Method:

  1. In a pot, combine cranberries, lemon zest, and orange marmalade. Bring to a boil.

  2. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 120 minutes.

  3. In a small bowl, mix together almond flour, oats, sugar, and baking powder. Add butter and mix until crumbly.

  4. Transfer half crumb mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press down to create the base.

  5. Spread cranberry mixture over the base. Press down the remaining half crumb mixture on top of cranberry mixture. Bake in a 350 degrees preheated oven for 30 minutes.

  6. Cut into blocks and serve fresh.

7. Roasted Chicken with Cranberry and Potatoes

This recipe is made with delicious roasted chicken and sauteed potatoes served in hearty cranberry sauce. It’s the perfect solution for dinner.

Ingredients:

4 - chicken breasts with skin

1/4 cup - olive oil

1 tbsp - thyme, chopped

1 1/2 tsp - rosemary, chopped

2 - minced garlic cloves

1/2 - lemon juice and zest

1 pound - potatoes, baby

3 - chopped carrots

1 cup - chicken stock

1 1/2 cups - cranberries

2 tbsp - sugar, brown

2 tbsp - balsamic

Method:

  1. Marinade chicken with 2 tbsp olive oil, thyme, garlic, rosemary, and zest. Add salt and pepper.

  2. Transfer to a skillet on and cook on medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp olive oil. Cook for 5 minutes, each side. Set aside.

  3. In the same skillet, add potatoes, carrots, 2 tbsp butter, and salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Add wine, if desired. Cook for 5 minutes.

  4. Combine cooked chicken with vegetables and squeeze 1/2 lemon juice.

  5. Meanwhile, combine cranberries, balsamic, and sugar. Garnish over chicken and roast in oven for 25 minutes. Serve fresh.

8. Cranberry Frozen Yogurt

Why always order out for healthy frozen yogurt when you can make a delicious batch of cranberry yogurt yourself?

Ingredients:

3 cups - fresh cranberries

3 tbsp - honey

1/4 cup - fresh blackberries

1 cup - yogurt

Method:

  1. Cook cranberries and honey in a saucepan for 10 minutes. Set aside.

  2. Press down the cranberries mixture with a spoon.

  3. Transfer into a blender and add yogurt and blackberries. Blend thoroughly. Set aside in a refrigerator for 3 hours.

  4. Blend in an ice cream maker and freeze for a couple of hours to serve cool.

9. Baked Cranberry Cookies

This healthy baked cookies recipe will make everyone fall in love with cranberries. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself!

Ingredients:

11 tbsp - butter

1 cup - cooking sugar

1 - egg

1 cup - sugar, brown

1/3 cup - coconut milk

3 1/4 cups - flour

1 1/2 tsp - baking powder

1/2 tsp - salt

2 1/2 cups - cranberries

1 cup - chopped walnuts

Method:

  1. Combine brown sugar, sugar, and cream butter in a small bowl. Add egg and coconut milk.

  2. Add the flour with the mixture and baking powder with salt. Lastly, toss in the cranberries and chopped walnuts.

  3. Make cookie dough on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 350 degrees preheated oven for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Wrapping It Up

Going all in when it comes to boosting your cranberry intake, in healthy ways, can be one of the smartest things to do this year. While most people often set untimely “getting fit” goals that they never actually meet, you can start your ideal diet plan with the help of delicious cranberries.

If you have a few health concerns or none at all, I’ve listed a lot of reasons why you need more cranberries in your life. And why you shouldn’t give up on self-managing your health right away. When most people think of cranberries, they think of better metabolism and the treatment of urinary tract infections. But there’s a lot more to cranberries than just those two health benefits. Like I discussed, it’s good for the heart, brain, dental health, hormonal imbalance in women, and for cancer.

You’ll get more from your fitness goals by following a healthy and moderate diet of cranberries. All you have to do is stock up on lots of frozen cranberries to last you for months and cook all sorts of interesting recipes into your daily meals.

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