Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wholesome Wednesdays: Cranberries

Wow, i can't believe it's already wednesday morning. No excuses this week, here's much ado about cranberries!
Firstly, cranberries are tart and delicious, and are great in cranberry/ jalapeno muffins!

Secondly, "my mama always said" eat your cranberries to prevent urinary tract infections! It was long thought that that tart, acidic bite of the cranberry was what prevented UTIs, but it's recently been proven that their proanthocyanidins (PACs) are what prevent the dreaded UTI:
The special structure of these PACs (involving A-type linkages between their components) acts as a barrier to bacteria that might otherwise latch on to the urinary tract lining. In many studies, the UTI-preventing benefits of cranberries are somewhat modest and limited to women who have recurrent UTIs.  -WHFoods
Gotta love bacteria blocking food stuffs! (Apologies for the overabundance of exclamation points this morning, it's just that kind of a day) This bacteria fighting may also be helpful in fighting stomach ulcers caused by nasty tum-bacteria build up. It also turns out that those cranberries that are water harvested (generally for convenience and easier harvesting) may have even greater health benefits than their non-water harvested friends. Those berries that get to float on the water for a few weeks really soak up the sun, increasing the content of anthocyanin  (the phytonutrients that give the berries their popping red color). And as is usually the case - if you want to get the full bang for the health-buck of cranberries, eat them whole instead of taking capsules or drinking juice. As is often the case it is the synergy of all the interior components of the berries that make them so healthful, not just one or two little elements alone. Eat those cranberries and get antioxidant benefits, anti-inflammatory benefits, and anti-cancer benefits, oh my!

A note on cancer from World's Healthiest Foods:
Over the past 5 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: blocked expression of MMPs (matrix metalloproteinases); inhibition of ODC (ornithine decarboxylase enzymes); stimulation of QRs (quinone reductase enzymes); inhibition of CYP2C9s (Phase I detoxification enzymes); and triggering of apoptosis (programmed cell death) in tumor cells. The cancer-preventive benefits of cranberries are now known to extend to cancers of the breast, colon, lung, and prostate.

Tons of health benefits are hiding in this tart little berries along with some great, immediate nutritional goodness. Cranberries are a great source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol) and Vitamin K, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C and Manganese. They include a decent amount of sugar, like most fruits but all that Vitamin C makes a little sweet worth it. Mix in some cranberries to your diet this holiday season: i'm famous for my cranberry sauce every Thanksgiving, but i also like to mix them into my homemade applesauce, great with yogurt for a probiotic, cancer fighting breakfast.
Here's to your health!

What's your favorite cranberry recipe?

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