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Cranberries: Nutrition, Facts, Benefits, History
by Linda Yerardi, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E.cranberries-bowl


CRANBERRY NUTRITION AND HEALTH BENEFITS

Cranberries are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants. They’re also low-calorie—until, of course, you add the sugar that makes these tart treats more palatable.

And drinking a few ounces of their juice a day (amounts in studies vary) can help you avoid urinary tract infections: components in the juice “prevent bacteria from adhering to the lining of the urinary tract,” explains Gabriel Rodriguez, M.D., associate professor of urology at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

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CRANBERRY BUYING TIPS

A 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries equals about 3 cups whole or 2 1/2 cups chopped. The freshest berries are firm and even bounce when dropped!

They come in many shades of red, so color isn’t a reliable indicator of age or freshness, says Jere Downing, executive director of the Cranberry Institute, an industry association. “Fresh cranberries are typically sold out by mid-December due to the limited supply,” so buy soon and store, he says.


CRANBERRY STORAGE TIPS

You can keep fresh cranberries in the refrigerator for up to a month or freezer up to nine months (maybe even a year), says Downing. “Airtight storage bags will reduce the chance of freezer burn.”


CRANBERRY HISTORY TIDBIT

Despite popular lore, American Indians may not have introduced the Pilgrims to cranberries. “And it really doesn’t make much sense,” says Kathleen Curtin, food historian with Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts. “When Europeans used the berries, they used them in familiar European recipes like sauces and pies, as they would any other sour berry.”


QUICK WAYS TO USE CRANBERRIES

You can easily add cranberries to your favorite recipes for muffins, pies or quickbreads. Dried cranberries make great additions to salads, hot and cold cereals, trail mixes or just as a snack by themselves.


LINDA YERARDI, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E.,
is a diabetes nutrition educator at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md., and a consulting dietitian for small businesses, clinics and special groups.

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Last updated and/or approved: December 2010.
Original article appeared in November/December 2007 former print magazine. Bios current as of that issue. This general health-care information is not meant as individual advice. Please see our disclaimer.
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