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Benefits of Cranberries (Plus 12 Ways to Use Them!)

Cranberries don’t get the attention they deserve! We all know fruits and vegetables are good for us, but cranberries are among the top contenders as far as health benefits go. Don’t believe me? Read on to see why cranberries are the antioxidant source of your dreams. Plus, I included some simple ideas for adding cranberries to your day at the end.

Benefits of cranberries

A Quarter of Your Vitamin C in 1 Cup

That’s right—just 1 cup of raw whole cranberries has almost 25% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C as well as other vitamins and minerals in trace amounts. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and supports immune health.

Cranberries Are Packed with Antioxidants

Berries are antioxidant powerhouses, and it goes way beyond vitamin C! Cranberries are no different; ounce for ounce they have more antioxidants than almost any other berry (blueberries have the crown). Antioxidants help protect your body from free radicals, which promotes healthy aging.

Besides simply having a lot of antioxidants, cranberries have certain antioxidants that appear to have specific benefits. For example, cranberries contain anthocyanins, the antioxidant that gives certain berries their ruby color. And that’s only scratching the surface.

Urinary Tract Health Support

This is what cranberries are most well-known for. Cranberries have been used to support urinary tract health and bladder health for centuries… and modern studies have backed up those claims.

What makes cranberries so effective for urinary tract health support? The easy answer is antioxidants. But it’s a little more complicated than that. Cranberries are a rich source of proanthocyanidins (PAs or PACs). Essentially, these are condensed phenolic compounds that act as super-powered antioxidants. Many fruits, vegetables and seeds contain PAs, but cranberries simply have more.

How to Add Cranberries to Your Day

You’ve got a few options to add the benefits of cranberries to your life! Cranberries are available as whole berries, dried berries, juice, sauce and supplements. A word of caution, though—cranberries are bitter compared to other berries. Juices, dried cranberries and sauces are often loaded up with sugar to make them more palatable. When possible, opt for 100% juice and unsweetened or fruit-sweetened options.

Here are a few ideas for using whole, raw cranberries, dried cranberries and cranberry juice/cranberry concentrate.

Cranberry infographic

Whole Cranberries

  • Make your own cranberry sauce
  • Add to smoothies
  • Add to salads
  • Add to oatmeal
  • Fold into pancake, muffin or cookie batter

Dried Cranberries

  • Add a little flair to your salad
  • Top smoothie bowls, oatmeal and chia pudding
  • Make your own trail mix
  • Make homemade granola bars or energy bars

Cranberry Juice or Cranberry Concentrate

  • Use as a base for smoothies
  • Flavor chia pudding
  • Drink plain!
 

 

Of course, if adding cranberries to your diet seems a little too daunting, cranberry supplements can also help you out!

 

How do you add cranberries to your day?

 

Sources:

  • https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/
  • http://www.cranberries.org/health-benefits

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