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Cranberry - The Magical, Healthy Holiday Fruit

When the Pilgrims shared that first Thanksgiving dinner with the Indians, it's likely that cranberries were on the table. Long a major part of the diet of the Native Americans in Massachusetts, cranberries have become a traditional part of the holiday season. Not only are the berries a festive tradition, but they also offer huge nutritional benefits, making them one of the healthiest things likely to be on your table over the course of the holidays.
 
Here's a look at all of the benefits of eating your cranberries:
 
- Support for Digestive Health - Eating 1 cup of raw cranberries supplies you with 20 percent of your daily dietary fiber requirements (based on a 2,000 calorie diet). Fiber is essential to the functioning of the immune system, as it helps to keep food cycling through the stomach and intestines to reduce the chances of constipation.
 
- Antioxidant Protection - Your body relies on antioxidants to help limit the effects of the free radicals that cause damage to the body and contribute to the aging process. One cup of cranberries provides you with vitamins A, C and E, three of the most powerful antioxidant nutrients. In fact, one serving provides 24 percent of the necessary vitamin C requirements, making the fruit beneficial for immune support.
 
- Blood Health - To clot properly when you suffer a wound, your body relies on vitamin K. Cranberries are an excellent source of the nutrient, providing 7 percent of your body's daily requirements with just one serving.
 
- Strong Bones and Connective Tissue - When we think of bone health, we often think of calcium, but it's not the only mineral that our body needs to produce healthy bones. Manganese is another key nutrient for bone health and also helps to contribute to the production of connective tissue. A single serving of cranberries gives you 20 percent of the manganese that you need per day.
 
Keep in mind that the way you enjoy cranberries matters. Canned cranberry sauce is full of sugar and sodium and not the best way to benefit from the magically nutritious fruit. Instead, try making a fresh cranberry salad using one of the hundreds of recipes that you can find online. You can also get the nutritional benefits of cranberries by adding dried ones to your stuffing, salads and desserts. When you need a quick snack, mix dried or thawed frozen cranberries into some plain Greek yogurt for a healthy treat. With some creativity, you can find many ways to enjoy the traditional cranberry.

 
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