A Look Into this American Staple
The cranberry is a unique fruit. Indigenous to North America, the fruit gets its name from its resemblance to a cranes neck just before it begins to flower. The original “cranberry” was shortened to the familiar cranberry over time.
Our ancestors would have picked the fruit by hand. It wasn’t until 1940’s that farmers discovered the more efficient method of “bog flooding.” Cranberries float in water due to the presence of 4 locules filled with relatively large amounts of air. If a field of ripe cranberries is filled with water, the air pockets will cause the fruit to float on the surface making for easy harvest.
The cranberry is normally processed with added sugars before consumption because of its high acidity and low sugar content, lending a bitter and tart taste. From a health perspective, these qualities are what make fresh cranberries such a smart snack. It’s packed with antioxidants and vitamins without the drawbacks of sugar consumption.
Physicians have recognized the infection-fighting power of cranberries for years. One of the active ingredients, called proanthocyanidins or PACs, interferes with bacteria’s ability to adhere to the lining of the bladder. That’s what makes it such an effective method for UTI prevention.
New research suggests that polyphenols, including those found in cranberries, may contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease by inhibiting platelet aggregation, reducing blood pressure, and via other anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Heart disease is the number-one cause of death in America with over 600,000 cases reported each year. Anything to lower that number should be considered.
So on this Thanksgiving, instead of going for the jam or the juice, try the real deal instead. Your heart might thank you. Or grab a juice with no added sugars like Natalie’s Orange Cranberry healthy-tasty mix.