By Nicole Parmenter and Katie Jeffrey, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, RDN
With the holiday season is in full swing, cranberries are one of my favorite fruits that symbolize the spirit of the holidays. An unsung hero in the fruit isle, this mighty little berry is more powerful than one may believe. Culturally, we tend to associate the cranberry with Thanksgiving dinner – its one great annual appearance. But what you may not know is that cranberries are beneficial to our health, beyond the traditional side dish. Cranberries have been deemed a “super food” because they’re nutrient-rich. They contain high levels of antioxidants such as vitamin C and E both of which help fight off oxidative stress from free radicals and help boost the body’s immune response to fight infections. Cranberries also contain vitamin K which facilitates blood coagulation.
The benefits don’t stop there. Cranberries are known for preventing urinary tract infections, inhibiting the growth of Helicobacter Pylori (harmful bacteria found in the digestive tract) and reducing the risk of cancer and inflammation due to their high amount of phytonutrients. Cranberries are also rich in pectin, a great source of soluble fiber. Some of the most recent medical studies have proven that increasing your fiber intake can significantly lower blood pressure and cholesterol and improve insulin levels.
Here are five easy ways to incorporate this superfood into your current meal plan:
1. 4 oz. 100% cranberry juice with flavored seltzer for a non-alcoholic holiday spritzer
2. Add fresh cranberries to holiday pies, crisps, muffins and breads
3. Add ¼ cup natural dried cranberries to your oatmeal or granola
4. Add 1/3 to ½ cup frozen cranberries to a berry smoothie for a sweet-tart flavor
5. Add cranberry juice to mulled cider and garnish with a few fresh cranberries
So, with cold and flu season here, increasing your intake of cranberries can help you maintain your health this winter.
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