Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) are small, red berries that grow in damp bogs and swampy areas of North America. The cranberry plant is a perennial evergreen vine that is related to the blueberries and bilberries. It is described as a low-growing, woody perennial with small, oval leaves borne on vine-like shoot.
During the growing season, the leaves are dark green and glossy, turning reddish brown during the active season. Its flower buds, formed on short, upright shoots, open from May to June and produce ripe fruit in late September to early October.
The cranberry fruits can be consumed fresh, dried, juice, and even as sauce. Whether these fruits are enjoyed fresh, dried, or in juice form, cranberries are one the most nutritious fruits that offer many positive health benefits.
Cranberries are packed with powerful antioxidants, partly from substances called proanthocyanidins, which responsible for the red color of cranberries. These antioxidants can neutralize free radicals, which damage cell membranes and contribute to aging.
- Anti aging properties
The antioxidants present in cranberries will help your body to get rid of free radicals which contribute to the aging process. A recent study suggests that diet high in antioxidant may prevent chronic age-related problems such as loss of coordination and memory.
- Prevent heart disease
Regular intake of cranberries may benefit your heart in several different ways. They help to reduce the LDL (bad) cholesterol levels which can clog the arteries. They also help to prevent plaque from forming on the arterial walls, which can lead to heart disease such as heart attack and stroke.
- Treat urinary tract infections
Cranberries have long been known to help treat urinary tract infections (UTIs). Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins that can prevent E. coli bacteria from sticking on the bladder wall. If you suffer from frequent urinary tract infections, eating more cranberries may be helpful.
- Prevent cancers
The proanthocyanidins found in cranberries can inhibit the growth of breast, lung, and prostate cancer. These compounds have the ability to fight free radicals, and prevent micro-tumors from growing and spreading.
- Prevent kidney stones
Cranberries contain citric acid which can stop the development of kidney stones and other kidney problems.
- Protect your teeth against dental problems
A research has showed that cranberries juice may help prevent tooth decay and cavities. Scientists found that a compound in the fruit can block the bacteria from sticking onto the teeth, preventing the formation of the dental plaques.
However, you should limit the intake of cranberry-containing products as many of these products contained large amounts of sugar which could lead to tooth decay.
- Protect against stomach ulcers
Regular consumption of cranberry can kill Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that responsible for most stomach ulcers.
When buying cranberries, choose the really red, shiny ones that are firm to the touch and avoid mushy or wrinkled berries.