Cranberries - benefits, uses and tips

Traditionally, cranberries are associated with the Christmas meal. It is used in many recipes - both sauces and desserts - and is consumed fresh, dried or in the form of juice. In addition to its culinary qualities, cranberry is increasingly recommended by doctors and specialists in natural medicine as a preventive treatment for people suffering from frequent urinary tract infections. We proudly use it in a soap with cranberries and lemongrass.

Cranberry bushes, originating from the peat-rich muddy soils of North America, are now widespread in Europe. You can even grow them in your garden, but you should know that they prefer moist soil. Cranberry bush survives low temperatures, although frost can destroy its buds, and it takes a lot of sun for the fruit to grow.

In addition to treating urinary tract infections, cranberries were used for various blood, liver, and gastric problems and to reduce appetite. Cranberry juice is indicated for people suffering from urinary incontinence because it reduces the unpleasant smell of urine. Also, the substances in its component help prevent cavities and tooth loss, acting on the bacteria that produce bacterial plaque.

The phytochemicals in cranberry, called antioxidants tannins and anthocyanins (which help improve vision at night) and seed oil contain omega - 3 fatty acids. ( Read here about how amazing are omega - 3 fatty acids, and here where you can find them. )

One half cup of chopped cranberries contains:

  • 25 calories

  • 0.25 grams (g) of protein

  • 0.07 g of fat

  • 6.6 g of carbohydrate, including 2.35 g of natural sugar

  • 2 g of fiber

  • 4.4 milligrams (mg) of calcium

  • 0.12 mg of iron

  • 3.3 mg of magnesium

  • 6 mg of phosphorus

  • 44 mg of potassium

  • 1.1 mg of sodium

  • 0.05 mg of zinc

  • 7.7 mg of vitamin C

  • 0.5 micrograms (mcg) of folate DFE

  • 35 international units of vitamin A

  • 0.72 mg of vitamin E

  • 2.75 mcg of vitamin K

Cranberries also contain a range of vital B vitamins, including:

  • vitamin B-1 (thiamin)

  • vitamin B-2 (riboflavin)

  • vitamin B-3 (niacin)

  • vitamin B-6

They are also a good source of vitamin C.

Vitamin C is a powerful, natural antioxidant. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), vitamin C can:

  • block some of the damage caused by disease-causing free radicals

  • improve iron absorption from plant sources

  • boost the immune system

  • support collagen production for wound healing

A higher fiber intake can also help a person reduce their risk of developing a range of health conditions, including:

  • stroke

  • coronary heart disease

  • hypertension

  • high cholesterol

  • diabetes

  • obesity

  • certain gastrointestinal conditions

Increased fiber intake can also bring down blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss for people with obesity.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that plays a role in immune function. It may help a person prevent or delay the chronic conditions associated with free radicals, such as:

  • heart disease

  • cancer

  • cataracts

  • Alzheimer’s disease

  • arthritis

Fighting bladder infections

Cranberry acts in several ways on urinary tract infections. In the past, it was said to cause acidification of the urine, an increase in hippuric acid, an acid that creates an unfavorable environment for the development of E. coli and other bacteria that can enter the urinary tract. However, although cranberry has an acidic character, this does not mean that it also determines the acidic character of urine.

Currently, researchers are focusing on other substances that are part of cranberry, especially fructose and antioxidants. Also, the high content of vitamin C helps to improve the body's immunity in the fight against infections.

Research has shown that increased consumption of cranberry juice can help reduce the occurrence of urinary tract infections. It also seems to reduce the duration of symptoms, but if you have already had a urinary tract infection, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice. In this situation, cranberry juice helps the potency of drug treatment.

Blood benefits

Research has shown that cranberry juice can increase levels of good cholesterol - HDL and antioxidants in the blood. (HDL stands for high-density lipoproteins. It is sometimes called the "good" cholesterol because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Your liver then removes the cholesterol from your body. LDL stands for low-density lipoproteins.) It can also help prevent cardiovascular disease, but the amounts to be consumed are quite large - three glasses a day for three months. Also, doctors believe that cranberry can help both improve the severity of strokes and recover from such attacks.

How much and how often?

Most studies on the prevention of urinary tract infections recommend a daily consumption of 800 grams of cranberries. This amount is equivalent to 500 ml of undiluted cranberry juice consumed twice a day. Cranberry juice found in supermarkets is too dilute to be effective. You can prepare this juice yourself with the help of a juicer or you can buy natural juice from health food stores. If the undiluted syrup seems too sour, you can mix it in equal amounts with pure blueberry juice that contains similar ingredients. Or you can mix the daily portion with cranberry juice with an equal amount of apple juice, which is naturally sweet.

Usually cranberry consumption, even in larger quantities is not harmful. Unfortunately, people who have problems with blood clotting and who are being treated with warfarin should not consume cranberries, not even in the form of drinks, capsules or other concentrates, as it can increase the anticoagulant effect of the drugs, thus causing severe bleeding.

Also, if you have prostate problems or suffer from severe kidney disease, ask your doctor before consuming cranberry juice, as it contains oxalate. Consumption of more than one liter per day for a long period can increase the risk of kidney stones.

*This article has no intention in advising to treat or cure any illness nor has any intention to persuade readers into taking any action following the facts in the article.

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