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Food of the month - Cranberries

December 2014

Cranberries - Not just for Christmas!

Today we think nothing of using cranberries in a variety of recipes; they are lovely fruit that can add real individual flavour to sauces, drinks, stuffings, casseroles and even puddings. They are also readily available everywhere.

What a change from when we were kids and cranberries only came in jars for Christmas. In those days cranberries were very much an American food, in fact the name cranberry comes from “craneberry” used by early European settlers in America who thought the look of a growing cranberry plant with its slender wiry stems somehow resembled a crane. Native Americans were the first to use cranberries as a food and it is thought that the Algonquian people may have introduced the fruit to English settlers in Massachusetts who incorporated the berries into their early Thanksgiving celebrations.

Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Pork

Pheasant

Pumpkin


 

Diet & Supplements Index

Waitrose Recipes

Cranberries were first brought to Europe in the early 1800s but they only had limited appeal and really it is only in the last couple of decades that cranberries have really become popular, in part because it has been recognised that they are one of the termed “super foods”.

Cranberries are a power source of vitamin C, a natural antioxidant that can help to block some of the damage caused by free radicals.

These little red berries also contain vitamin E, a fat soluble antioxidant involved in immune function that might help prevent or delay chronic diseases. On top of this, they also contain vitamin K, manganese and also quite a few phytonutrients – these are naturally occurring plant chemicals that again can help fight those unwanted free radicals.

Cranberries are also a good source of fibre which we all know is essential to our health – plus they are low in calories; half a cup will contain around 25 calories.

Cranberries have been heralded as really useful in helping to prevent urinary tract infections, and there is reason for this.

Initially it was thought that it was the berry’s acid content that helped improve urinary health, but more recently it has been found that the benefits for cystitis and other urinary health problems are due to the berries’ anti-adhesive properties. Their phytochemicals prevent bacteria from sticking and multiplying, which can do a lot to help improve urinary tract health. Interestingly, their unique structure means that they have better anti-adhesion properties than apple juice or green tea.

Cranberries can even boost the health in your mouth because they can inhibit harmful acid production which helps to prevent bacteria such as strephtococcus mutans harming your mouth and teeth.

With their lovely deep red, their fresh taste and of course their health giving properties, it is no wonder that cranberries are not only top favourite for winter celebrations, but are also really popular right throughout the year.

 

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