The festive season is finally here, and between the shopping and decorations, there’s one thing we’re looking forward to more than anything – the food. Cranberries are a key part of our Christmas palette, after all, turkey isn’t turkey without cranberry sauce. But did you know that there are several health benefits of cranberries too? This makes them even more enjoyable at Christmas.
1. Prevent urinary tract infections
Cranberries have often been advocated by those who suffer from urinary tract infections. Whilst previously thought to be because of the acidity content of the cranberries, it is actually because of their proanthocyanidins content which works to prevent the bacteria which casues UTIs from remaining in the UT lining. If you are prone to UTIs or you suspect you have one coming on, drinking fresh cranberry juice could help to ease the symptoms.
2. Rich in antioxidants
Cranberries are known for being rich in antioxidants, featuring more antioxidant content than many other fruit and vegetables. Antioxidants can help protect the body from free radicals and other elements which may lead to the development of cancer. Naturally occurring antioxidants such as those found in cranberries are the best way to get them into your diet, and you should aim to include multiple portions of fruit and vegetables in your everyday diet.
3. Protect your teeth
Even though fruit is healthy, the naturally occurring sugars within it can cause problems for our teeth. Cranberries however, contain phytonutrients which work to protect teeth from bacteria, in the same way as with UTIs. They also boast anti-inflammatory properties which can help to reduce gum inflammation.
4. Boost mental health
Studies have shown that cranberries are also good for boosting mental health, and also help to prevent strokes and Alzheimer’s disease, repairing cells after damage. It is important however that you consume fresh cranberries rather than juices or processed products which may not feature the full benefits.
5. Beneficial for weight loss
Cranberries are low in calories, and are mostly made up of water, which means that they are a great addition to your diet if you’re looking to shed a few pounds. Whether you use them for snacking in dried varieties or as something to graze on, you can enjoy cranberries as a light snack which will also help to satisfy any sweet cravings.
How to consume cranberries this Christmas
There are many ways to enjoy cranberries over the Christmas period including:
– Cranberry relish with turkey sandwiches or brie and bacon
– Homemade cranberry sauce
– Cranberry stuffing with pork meat and chestnuts
– Cranberry cheesecakes and tarts
– Added to smoothies with other fruit, vegetables and protein sources
Making your own meals with fresh cranberries is a great way to enjoy all of their health benefits. It’s important to remember that cranberries aren’t just for Christmas, and can be enjoyed all year round in different foods. Start enjoying fresh antioxidant-rich cranberries this festive season and see the benefits they can have on your health, with plenty of great cranberry-based recipes available on the BBC Food website.