Do you love cranberries? Are you sad when cranberry season is over? We’ve got great news for you—in most metropolitan areas, frozen, unsweetened cranberries are available year round! Of course, dried cranberries have been available for quite some time, but read the label carefully because dried cranberry nutrition can vary significantly due to a ton of added sugar. On the flipside, frozen cranberry nutrition is identical to fresh cranberries, making them a healthy staple for smoothies, desserts, and savory dishes.
What Are Cranberries?
Vaccinium macrocarpon, the botanical name for the cranberry, is native to North America. Native Americans and First Nation Canadians have used cranberries to treat bladder and kidney disorders for hundreds of years. Canada and the United States still produce over 80% of cranberries grown in the world, with the vast majority of the cranberries going to make juice, cranberry sauce and dried cranberries. Sadly, only 5% of cranberries harvested are sold fresh!
Cranberries grow in low-lying areas and when they ripen, the bogs are flooded, causing the berries to float to the surface of the water where they can be quickly scooped up. If you’ve never witnessed a cranberry harvest, put it on your bucket list! It is an extraordinary sight, and this visual event is often accompanied by a festival where you can dive into unique and creative cranberry recipes.
Cranberry Nutrition Facts
Cranberries are a good source of vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin C, and manganese. They are also loaded with dietary fiber and packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients, rounding cranberries out as a power-packed superfood!
1 cup of fresh or frozen cranberries contains:
- Calories: 50.6
- Total carbohydrates: 13.4 grams 4% DV
- Dietary fiber: 5.1 grams 20% DV
- Protein: 0.4 grams 1%
- Vitamin C: 14.6 milligrams 24% DV
- Manganese: 0.4 milligrams, 20% DV
- Vitamin E: 1.3 milligrams 7% DV
- Vitamin K: 5.6 micrograms 7% DV
Need more proof of the humble cranberry’s nutritional superiority? Here are just some of the powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals in the cranberry.
Anthocyanins are antioxidants that, according to the Department of Food Science and Technology at Ohio State University, are proven to promote weight loss, destroy free radicals, and fight breast cancer. Anthocyanins are also found in blackberries, blueberries, cherries, eggplant, grape juice, plums, and prunes.
Quercetin is a powerful phytonutrient that is proven to reduce inflammation in the arterial walls and fight cancer. In addition to cranberries, quercetin is found in capers, kale, tomatoes, broccoli, raw asparagus, and raw red onions.
Benzoic acid demonstrates the antiseptic properties responsible for killing harmful bacteria inside the urinary tract that cause UTIs and bladder infections. Benzoic acid is found naturally in berries, plums, and cinnamon. It is also added to cosmetics, beauty products, and processed foods.
Epicatechins are a powerful phytonutrient found in cranberries, green tea, and red wine. Research shows that epicatechins fight heart disease,certain types of cancer, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
What Are the Benefits of Cranberry?
The cranberry nutrition facts above show what cranberry does to the body through the extraordinary polyphenols, flavonoids, and other nutrients. Cranberries are loaded with the potential to fight and prevent inflammation, diabetes, infections, and more.
1. Prevent Diabetes
According to a clinical study published in the journal Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine, the polyphenol anthocyanin may help prevent type 2 diabetes, improve insulin production in type 2 diabetics, and protect pancreatic cells from necrosis as evidenced by animal studies.
2. Treat Urinary Tract Infections
The First Nation and Native Americans were right! Cranberries fight bacteria that cause bladder infections, and they reduce the risk of recurrent UTIs according to a recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Nutrition. But let’s not mistake sugary, processed cranberry juice for pure fresh or frozen cranberries or cranberry extract.
3. Improve Cardiovascular Health
According to a recent eight-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial published in the European Journal of Nutrition, drinking cranberry juice reduces cardiovascular disease risk factors, including increasing HDL cholesterol levels.
4. Improve Immune System
A polyphenol compound found in cranberries fights oxidative stress and improves the immune system and may help prevent metabolic diseases, inflammatory diseases, and various types of cancer according to a study published in the journal BioMed Research International.
Delicious Year-Round Cranberry Recipes
Cranberries aren’t just for Thanksgiving and Christmas! Frozen cranberries and dried cranberries are available throughout the year in most markets. Take advantage of this berry’s extraordinary nutrient content and dive into these healthy cranberry recipes now!
Do you love cranberry sauce? This recipe from Cookie + Kate is naturally sweetened with a touch of honey, maple syrup, and fresh orange. Just bring all the ingredients to a boil, reduce, and simmer until thick. Mix this cranberry sauce into yogurt for breakfast, spoon on top of a bowl of oatmeal, or spread it on whole grain toast covered in goat cheese or cream cheese.
This mocktail is loaded with probiotics from the kombucha, while the pomegranate juice, fresh ginger, and rosemary add a ton of essential vitamins and minerals. Together, these ingredients make this a perfect drink if you have leaky gut symptoms.
Sharon Palmer, the Plant-Powered Dietitian, has created a truly inspired hummus recipe that is just a bit sweet, a touch tart, and super creamy! This cranberry jalapeño hummus recipe adds dried cranberries and fresh cilantro to a traditional hummus.
Do you want to knock two superfoods off your list in one recipe? This delicious sautéed kale recipe is sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy, and just a touch acidic. Every bite is perfectly balanced.