Native to America, cranberries are one of the richest health-promoting foods around. Cranberries have numerous health benefits including: providing anti-inflammatory benefits for the digestive tract and cardiovascular system, preventing the growth of bacteria in both the stomach and urinary tract, promoting healthy cholesterol levels, aiding in stroke recovery and even helping to prevent cancer. Containing at least five key categories of health-supportive phytonutrients (all of which play a role in digestive tract support), recent studies suggest that cranberries are unique in that their phytonutrients work as a synergistic team. This synergistic action makes the whole, fresh, raw cranberry – by leaps and bounds – the best health-supporter when compared to the benefits offered by the berry’s isolated components. The rich, red color of cranberries comes from anthocyanin compounds which act as phytonutrient boosters, and research shows that the deeper the red color of the cranberry, the higher the potential for health-benefits.
For these reasons, choose fresh, plump cranberries that are deep red in color and firm to touch, as these will offer the greatest health benefits. During off-season times, the next best option is to eat dried or frozen cranberries. Cranberry juice tends to be loaded with extra sugars and eliminates the “presscake” (skins and flesh) which contain the bulk of the berry’s phytonutrients. Cranberries also make fantastic additions to salads, granola mixes, blended in smoothies, and as a garnish for festive, flavored water.
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