The newest celebrity on the superfood block, cranberries are now well known as an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as manganese and potassium. Because of their anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, they are believed to prevent kidney infections, urinary tract infections, periodontal disease, strokes, heart disease, macular degeneration, stomach cancer and other chronic illnesses.
New research into the medicinal properties and health benefits of cranberries continues to reveal impressive results. Loaded with polyphenols, cranberries are known to have powerful antioxidant effects, which can slow down the aging process. They contain a proanthocyanidine, a compound that has been shown to prevent plaque from adhering to the teeth -- which is why cranberries are now thought to prevent periodontal disease. Regular cranberry consumption kills H. pylori bacteria, which can cause stomach cancer and ulcers.
Want to lower your risk for stroke and heart disease? Eat more cranberries. They have been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. Cranberries also contain a substance called quinic acid, which may prevent kidney stones from forming.
The anti-inflammatory effects of cranberries are wide reaching. "It seems small amounts of these phytochemicals find their way from plant foods, like cranberries, into our cells, and then direct cells to reduce our inflammatory reactions. And inflammation is not only something we see with infectious disease, but chronic low levels [of inflammation] now appear to be an important risk factor for both cardiovascular disease and cancer," explains Jeffrey B. Blumberg, director of Tufts University's Antioxidants Research Laboratory.
Incorporating more cranberries into your diet isn't difficult. They make a delicious addition to a variety of foods, both savory and sweet. Their tart flavor is a wonderful complement to salads, casseroles, meats, veggies, grains, sweetbreads, cakes, muffins, cookies, biscuits, juices, ice cream and more.
Salads: Add a little zing to your favorite salad with a handful of dried cranberries. This recipe for Spinach Salad With Dried Cranberries is a real crowd pleaser.
Main dishes: Cranberries taste great when paired with chicken, turkey and pork. Try drizzling this Spicy Cranberry Sauce over roast chicken. Or check out this unbelievably yummy Chicken & Cranberry Casserole. Your whole family will ask for more.
Drinks: Cranberry juice is delicious all on its own, but its zesty flavor makes an excellent base for all kinds of tasty cocktails, fizzes and other drinks. Try this amazing Cran-Raspberry Fizz at your next dinner soiree.
Breads: Spice up all your favorite recipes for sweetbreads, cookies and muffins with fresh, frozen or dried cranberries. This recipe for Apple Walnut Muffins With Dried Cranberries is out of this world.
Desserts. You won't have to feel guilty when noshing on this to-die-for Chocolate Cranberry Bread Pudding. With cranberries and dark chocolate, it's full of healthy ingredients. To make it even healthier, try some of these low-fat recipe substitutions.
Make a delicious Cranberry, Lentil and Mixed Green Salad:
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