Cranberries: Good Tasting and Good for You
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Cranberries: Good Tasting and Good for You

Researchers continue to discover many important health benefits from cranberries. These include helping to prevent recurring urinary tract infections, peptic ulcers, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers.

Now that the holidays are drawing near many of us are thinking about the menu, including dishes made from cranberries. In addition to the bright color and delicious taste associated with cranberry sauce, jell, and relish, researchers continue to discover that there are many important health benefits from cranberries. It has been well known among patients suffering from urinary tract infections that cranberry juice was believed to help prevent recurrences. Research has shown that it's not the acidity of the cranberries as we once thought, but the unusual nature of their anthocyanidins that is attributed to prevention of urinary tract infections. Anthocyanidins are plant pigments that are thought to have antioxidant, anti-platelet, and wound-healing properties. The special structure of these chemicals acts as a barrier to bacteria that might otherwise latch on to the urinary tract lining. Urinary tract infection preventing benefits of cranberries are somewhat modest and limited to women who with recurrent disease, therefore most helpful as an adjunct to your doctor’s recommended treatment plan.

This whole area of investigation has expanded to the study of other possible cranberry benefits. For example, we now understand that stomach ulcers are often related to overgrowth of the stomach lining of one particular type of stomach bacteria, Helicobacter pylori. In much the same way as cranberries may help prevent bacterial attachment to the lining of the urinary tract, it is postulated that they may also help prevent attachment of bacteria to the stomach lining. There is already some preliminary evidence that cranberry may help protect us from stomach ulcers in this way.

In recent years, scientists have identified an increasing number of mechanisms that help explain the anti-cancer properties of cranberries. These mechanisms are now known to include the blocked expression of several cancer-associated enzymes and the triggering of apoptosis, or programmed cell death in tumor cells. The cancer-prevention benefits of cranberries are now known to extend to cancers of the breast, colon, lung, and prostate. The anti-inflammatory properties are thought to help prevent cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

Recent studies have shown that whole cranberries consumed in dietary form do a better job of protecting our cardiovascular system and our liver. Several groups of researchers have summarized their health benefit findings by pointing out that the synergy among cranberry nutrients, rather than any individual cranberry component, is responsible for cranberry's health benefits. This synergy is only found in the whole berry as consumed in food form. This rule about whole dietary intake appears to apply to the antioxidant benefits, anti-inflammatory benefits, and anti-cancer benefits of cranberry.

So be happy with the fact that this holiday season, and year around, dishes and drinks made from fresh cranberries are not only good tasting but good for you too!


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Comments (2)
Ranked #61 in Nutrition

Thanks for sharing...

Ranked #1 in Nutrition

Great thoughts on coming holidays with cranberries, unluckily we do not have fresh ones here, only imported juices, thank you. (tweet, stumbled and digg)