Many people load up on cranberries around the holiday season. Who doesn’t enjoy homemade cranberry sauce or a fresh cranberry salad? But many people forget that the health benefits of eating cranberries are available throughout the year.
This amazing red berry is a rich source of phytochemicals that make it a natural disease fighter; and the nutritional value of cranberries make it a good choice for the dinner table any day of the year. Here are some of the many health benefits of eating cranberries.
It’s the proanthocyanidins in cranberries that pack a punch against cancer. Studies show that these natural compounds stop the growth of human lung, colon, and esophageal cancers in the laboratory without harming normal cells. Of course it’s easier to stop a cancer in the laboratory than it is in the human body and it may take relatively high doses to get these effects; but it’s possible that lower levels could prevent certain types of cancer. Eating cranberries may also help to prevent stomach cancer by inhibiting the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that causes stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.
Can eating cranberries low cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease? Recent research suggests it can. Cranberries are a good source of pterostilbene, a compound that activates cell receptors associated with lipid metabolism. One study showed that the pterostilbene found in cranberries was as effective at lowering LDL cholesterol levels as the prescription cholesterol drug ciprofibrate – without the side effects.
The antioxidants found in cranberries also help to prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol which causes dangerous plaque formation in the arteries supplying the heart. One study also showed that cranberry juice increased levels of HDL (the good cholesterol) in men who drank eight ounces a day. The bottom line? Eat tart, red cranberries for better heart health.
Better Dental Health
A study showed that drinking cranberry juice helps keep bacteria that cause gum disease from sticking to the gums and teeth and increasing your dental bill. The proanthocyanidins in cranberry juice are natural plaque fighters; and if you get the unsweetened juice it’s a great alternative to soft drinks.
Do They Prevent Urinary Tract Infections?
There’s some evidence that drinking cranberry juice reduces the number of urinary tract infections by keeping bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall. Most of these studies have been small and poorly designed, but it does appear to work for some people. If you suffer from frequent urinary tract infections, drinking more cranberry juice may be worth a trial run.
The Nutritional Value of Cranberries
Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C and are rich in dietary fiber. To get the most health benefits from eating cranberries, stay away from sugar sweetened cranberry juice. Look for sugar-free cranberry juice concentrates available at many health food stores. They’re an excellent source of proanthyocyanidins which can be diluted with water and enjoyed in their purest form.
Cranberries – they’re a great choice all year round.
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.