Did you miss having cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving? Well, that’s okay, because there’s always cranberry juice; heck, it might even be part of your trail mix when you go hiking. You might wonder why I, a physician, am interested in your cranberry consumption, but it’s simple: Cranberries are good for you.
Cranberry Consumption in the US
I guess I really shouldn’t worry. Americans consume 400 million pounds of cranberries every year, one fifth of which occurs on Thanksgiving week. We can thank native Americans for first cultivating cranberries to fight scurvy, a disease caused by Vitamin C deficiency. They also used the berry in poultices to heal wounds and tumors.
Smart. Cranberries have a substance in them that is antibiotic in quality, in that it prevents some common bacteria (E. Coli, Staph) from attaching to the walls of your cells. According to a report from NYU, this is why we use cranberry juice to deal with urinary infections; E. Coli is a common cause of bladder infections.
Cranberries and Antioxidants
Cranberries are now well known for their antioxidant properties. The substance that gives the cranberry its red color is also associated with prevention of disease. There are few foods we can consume that has more antioxidant power than the little red bog berry. Researchers at Tufts University report that the chemicals in cranberries (polyphenols) may exert protective benefits in heart disease by reducing the formation of blockages in coronary arteries, not to mention aid in other chronic illnesses.
I have to say that the research quoted has to do with cranberries themselves, not processed food using cranberries. Despite this, I hope you went back for seconds this Thanksgiving.
Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,
Joe Alton, M.D., aka Dr. Bones