The health benefits of cranberries

Canadian Health & Lifestyle 0

Cranberries are one of the few fruits that are native to North America and have been a holiday dinner staple since the first Thanksgiving. But they’re no longer relegated to side dish status, thanks to their many health benefits. The cranberry’s biggest claim to fame is its ability to help prevent urinary tract infections — but it turns out its benefits go well beyond the bladder.

cranberries

BERRY GOOD FOR YOU  
One cup of cranberries contains 24 percent of your recommended daily vitamin C intake, a building block of a healthy immune system. High intake has been linked to a decreased risk of rheumatoid arthritis and other auto-immune conditions.

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Cranberries are full of fibre at five grams per cup.

One of the lowest-calorie berries around, a cup of cranberries has 50 calories compared with a cup of blueberries at 84 calories.

Compared with 19 other fruits, cranberries boast the highest level of disease-fighting polyphenols  and have five times as many  antioxidants as broccoli.

Last summer, researchers at Laval University in Quebec found eating cranberries may help with weight loss. (The berries shift a  type of bacteria produced in the  gut from a strain linked to obesity to the kind associated with healthier body weight.)

Keep calories down by making your own cranberry sauce from raw berries, so you can control the amount of sugar. You can also incorporate dried cranberries  into healthy muffins, cookies or energy bars.

Canada is the world’s second-largest producer of cranberries — British Columbia grows 95 percent of Canadian cranberries — so it’s easy to buy local. Best of all, the berries can be refrigerated for months and frozen for up to a year.

Consulting experts: Professor Yves Desjardins; Jennifer Sygo, registered dietitian and sports nutritionist; Abby Langer, registered dietitian.

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