Cranberries originated in North America. Their in season late autumn to early winter. Cranberries are more common in cooler areas and usually grow on a low shrub or vine in acidic bogs. The American cranberry has larger leaves than the northern cranberry and a slight apple like taste. Cranberries were first cultivated on a farm in Massachusetts in the early nineteenth century and by 1820 they were being shipped to Europe. Outside of North America, fresh cranberries can be difficult to find. Most cranberries are grown commercially and are used in juices and other drinks. Almost 95% of the cranberry crop is processed into juices and sauces.

Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, and a good source of fiber and manganese. They contain many antioxidants. In 1/2 cup of fresh cranberries there are 23 calories, 6.1 grams of carbohydrates, and 2.3 grams of fiber. In one cup of cranberry juice, there are 116 calories, 30.8 grams carbohydrate and 0.3 grams of fiber.

Many people are aware of cranberry juice’s ability to protect against urinary tract infections. It’s also known that it protects against Helicobacter pylori,  which causes ulcers and stomach cancer. This fruit is a powerhouse of nutrients and disease fighting antioxidants. A 2010 study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology showed the protective effects of cranberries against a chemotherapy drug that damages the heart.

Fresh cranberries are too tart to eat on their own so combining them with other sweet berries is a good mix of flavors and antioxidants. Cranberries also freeze well which is good for storage to keep in the freezer.

Source: Reinhard, Tonia. Superfoods: the Healthiest Foods on the Planet. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2010. Print.



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