Cranberries – they’re a fruit that many people only eat during Thanksgiving, but there are many health benefits you may not be aware of that might want to make you eat them more regularly. Cranberries are incredibly versatile when it comes to cooking and although they might be a holiday feast staple, there is a lot more to them than you would think, especially their health benefits!
Not only are they delicious, especially paired with turkey and stuffing (although that’s definitely not a prerequisite to enjoying them), they can help keep you healthy year-round. Let’s take a look at 12 reasons to make cranberries part of your regular diet…
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They’re a Big Source of Fiber
Dietary fiber is important to help regulate your blood sugar, as well as keep you “regular.” And it’s not just bran muffins that contain high levels of fiber – according to Women’s Health, cranberries are up there too in terms of fiber content.
According to the source, 1-cup of whole cranberries accounts for 16-percent of your recommended daily intake. It also notes that cranberries can possibly help you manage your weight because they help you feel fuller for longer.
They’re Sweet on Sugar Content
As we alluded to earlier, cranberries can actually help prevent swings in your blood sugar, which leads to overeating. These tart-tasting fruits are also among some of the lowest in terms of sugar content among all fruits, says Women’s Health magazine.
Added to the mix is the fact cranberries contain a mineral called manganese, which helps maintain normal sugar levels, it says. Just make sure you’re eating whole cranberries and not cranberry juice or dried cranberries, which are “almost always” sweetened, warns the source.
They Might Help Prevent Cancers
While eating whole cranberries is always best, Healthline explains that even the juice can have a range of health benefits – one of them being the phytochemical content.
These phytochemicals act as antioxidants, which have been shown to combat free radicals that can cause damage to cells and possibly play a role in development of certain cancers, such as colon cancer. It may also help lower the risk of heart disease, adds the source.
They Can Fight Off Other Illnesses
Along with the possibility of preventing deadly diseases like cancer, cranberries can help prevent you from getting less serious ailments like a case of the sniffles (otherwise known as a cold), says Women’s Health.
That’s because cranberries are actually loaded in vitamin C – about 19-percent of your recommended daily intake, says the source. “When you’re sick of mainlining oranges (or Emergen-C) during the cold season, reach for some cranberries,” notes the source. If you do get a cold, cranberries may help limit its duration, it adds.
They’re An Ally To Your Heart
Healthline also explains that the phytonutrients found in cranberries may also help give your heart a helping hand, thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties. It says that inflammation can damage blood vessels over time, and damaged vessels can attract more plaque, narrowing your blood passages. This is a condition called atherosclerosis.
“Phytonutrients in cranberries could help guard against inflammation, delaying the process and offering protection against heart disease,” it notes.
While cranberries can help battle the kind of plaque that builds within blood vessels, there’s also some evidence they can help combat the kind of plaque that forms on your teeth and leads to decay and gum disease.
Women’s Health says this is due to certain compounds in cranberries that make it difficult for bacteria to adhere to the surface of your teeth and gums. Apparently there have been studies that back up this claim. However, the source warns that drinking cranberry juice with added sugar will erase this particular benefit.
A Choice That’s Easy To Digest
In fact, they’re more than that – they actually benefit the health of the digestive tract, and are believed to have “cleansing, anti-diarrheal, antiseptic and diuretic detoxifying properties,” according to Dr. Axe. That means they help your body remove toxins in a natural way.
On top of that, the source says recent research has shown that cranberries help balance bacteria in the gut and create a healthy gut flora environment, sort of like how probiotics in yogurt and kombucha work. And scientists are learning more and more about how your gut health affects your overall health.
May Prevent Ulcers
Stomach (or peptic) ulcers are sores that form on the lining of your stomach, and they can have very unpleasant symptoms including heartburn and nausea. Healthline says the same compounds in cranberries that benefit your heart can also help certain bacteria from wreaking havoc on your stomach.
This particular bacteria, called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), can grow and multiply in your tummy and when they “are allowed to grow out of control, stomach ulcers may form,” adds the source.
On The Right Tract
If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection (or UTI), then you know there’s nothing fun about them. However, Healthline explains that cranberries can help ease or even prevent them in the first place. In fact, you’ve probably heard people tell you to drink cranberry juice if you’re experiencing painful pee.
The key compound in cranberries that’s linked to easing UTIs is proanthocyanidins, which the source says may help prevent bacteria from sticking to the lining of the urinary tract. However, Healthline presents this information with caution, noting there’s still debate in the medical community about the effectiveness for cranberry juice for UTIs.
StyleCraze says aside from the fruit possibly soothing UTIs, cranberry extract in particular may be useful in treating male prostate disorders, such as benign prostate hyperplasia (an enlarged prostate that can cause discomfort and blockage of urine flow).
The source also says it may be useful in helping to treat prostate cancer, although it admits there’s not a lot of evidence to prove this. Make sure you see your doctor if you suspect anything’s up with your prostate (such as blood in your urine, or the urge to urinate frequently).
Good For Bad Cholesterol
You’ve probably heard about “good” and “bad” cholesterol, and in the case of cranberries, it goes after the LDL (bad) stuff and promotes the production of HDL (good) cholesterol, according to StyleCraze.
The source notes that the polyphenolic compounds found in cranberries regulate HDL and triglycerides (lipids) in your blood, which can help protect your body from heart attacks, diabetes, and obesity.
Benefits Are Skin Deep
That being said, eating cranberries can help you maintain a youthful look for longer, thanks to its benefits for your skin. “One of the prominent reasons for having cranberries could be this – glowing skin,” says StyleCraze.
That’s because cranberries have high levels of vitamin C (needed for the production of collagen, which gives skin its structure), are full of water for hydration and also contain antioxidants, all good things for smoother skin, it adds.