Cranberries nutrition facts
Unique, wild and natural by habitat, cranberries are rich in phyto-nutrients (naturally derived plant compounds), particularly proanthocyanidin antioxidants, which are essential for all-round wellness. The berries are indeed containing numerous health benefiting chemical substances that may offer protection from tooth cavities, urinary tract infection, and inflammatory diseases.
The plant can be described as an evergreen, dwarf, creeping shrub or a low-lying trailing vine, belonging to the family of Ericaceae, in the genus: Vaccinium, and subgenus: Oxycoccos. Scientific name: Vaccinium macrocarpon.
n its natural habitat, the cranberry plant grows vigorously in acidic sandy bogs, all across the temperate and cooler parts of Europe, Northern states in the United States and Canada. The plant is actually a dwarf, creeping shrub, or vine, which runs upto 10 to 20 cm in height and features slender, wiry, not so thick, woody stems bearing small, evergreen leaves.
Cranberry season generally lasts from October until December. The fruit is small, round, red color berry. Each berry features four centrally situated tiny seeds enclosed inside capsules. The berry is very acidic in taste, having pH in the range of 2.3 to 2.5.
Health benefits of Cranberries
Delicious, tart cranberries hold significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals called pro-anthocyanidins (PAC’s). Scientific studies have shown that consumption of berries have potential health benefits against cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections.
Antioxidant compounds such as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC’s), anthocyanidin flavonoids, cyanidin, peonidin and quercetin in cranberries may offer protection against cardiovascular disease by counteracting against cholesterol plaque formation in the heart and blood vessels. Further, these compounds help the human body lower LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL-good cholesterol levels in the blood.
Research studies suggest that drinking cranberry juice can protect against gram-negative bacterial infections such as E.coli in the urinary system by inhibiting bacterial-attachment to the bladder and urethral mucosa.
Consumption of cranberries turns urine acidic. Together with inhibition of bacterial adhesion actions (proteus bacterial-infections), cranberry juice can help prevent the formation of alkaline (calcium-ammonium- phosphate) stones inside the urinary tract.
Further, the berries prevent plaque formation on the tooth enamel by interfering with the ability of another gram-negative bacterium, Streptococcus mutans to stick to tooth surface. It thus, helps prevent development of cavities.
In addition, the berries are also good source of many vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin A, and folate and phenolics like ß-carotene, lutein, zea-xanthin, and minerals like potassium, and manganese.
Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity or ORAC (measurement of antioxidant strength of food items) demonstrates cranberry at an ORAC score of 9584 µmol TE units per 100 g, one of the highest among edible berries.