Ever wondered why cranberries are synonymous with Christmas? Well, this berry is unique because of its very low sugar content, which makes it as sour as a lemon. The tart taste is a favourite pairing with roast turkey, and the deep rich, red colour adds a burst of festive cheer to any plate. It is also a local Canadian fruit and has been harvested wild for over 200 years. Perhaps you have spent a fun autumn afternoon cranberry picking. Also, cranberries are one of the healthiest berries on our festive table.
But not all cranberry offerings are created equal. Many cranberry sauces and juices are loaded with white sugar, which can lower your immune system and leave you feeling like you have a holiday hangover. Thankfully, you can now find fruit juice-infused, dried cranberries and unsweetened juice in local health food stores across Canada, and even in the healthy food aisles of major grocery chains. So, be sure to read the labels to make sure you are getting the real thing so you get all the health benefits without compromise. Try mixing unsweetened cranberry juice with other juices for a refreshing sweet and sour infusion.
Five healthy reasons to increase your cranberry consumption:
1. Recent studies show cranberries may not be as effective at curing urinary tract infections as we once thought – they are actually better at preventing UTI’s! Active ingredients, such as proanthocyanidins, in cranberries impede the attachment of harmful bacteria to the walls of the urinary system preventing UTIs before they happen.
2. Cranberries are good for your teeth. Polyphenols found in cranberries may prevent dental cavities and gum disease by stopping bacteria that produce this damage from settling in the mouth. Remember, many processed cranberry products have added sugar, which destroys the healing effect of the berry and increases your risk of dental problems.
3. Protect your prostate with cranberries. Quercetin, a bioflavanoid found in cranberries, lowers risk of prostate cancer by squashing abnormal prostate cells before they have a chance to grow.
4. A diet rich in flavanoids like those found in the magnificent cranberry have been shown to prevent cardiovascular disease. Flavanoids are antioxidants that help protect the heart by inhibiting cellular damage by harmful molecules we may encounter daily such as car exhaust and pollution.
5. Concentrated cranberry juice has been shown to kill harmful H. Pylori bacteria in the stomach and prevent their reproduction. These nasty bacteria cause inflammation of the stomach lining which can lead to ulcers and stomach cancer.
Healing cranberry sauce recipe
Cranberries are an amazing food and what makes this sauce special is that it’s kept raw so its medicinal effect are at their maximum. It can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.
12-oz (360 g) fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
4 tbsp (60 mL) honey
2 tsp (10 mL) fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) ground cinnamon
2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut up
1. In a food processor fitted with a S-blade, pulse cranberries, honey, lemon juice and cinnamon until coarsely chopped.
2. Add apples and continue to pulse until smooth. Taste, adding additional honey, if desired.
3. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Makes 3 cups (750 mL).
Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts the Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her soon to be published first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.
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