America’s Original Superfruit: Cranberries are good for you!


Fall is cranberry season! One of the highlights of last week’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) in Boston was the opportunity to learn more about America’s Original Superfruit™.  This tart and tasty fruit is native to North America, and European settlers learned to use them from Native American populations. They grow on vines in sandy soil.

Most cranberries are harvested by the “wet” method. The growing areas, called bogs or marshes, are flooded with fresh water and the cranberries float to the top. 


Each berry has 4 air chambers that are their flotation devices! (The air chambers also make fresh ripe cranberries bounce if you drop them!) Some berries are also harvested with mechanical pickers.

Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C. They are also rich in polyphenols, particularly proanthocyanidins and quercetin. These naturally occurring plant chemicals give cranberries their “superfruit” status. Cranberries are associated with decreased inflammation, infection fighting, and healthier arteries. These properties make them a good food to promote a healthy brain, heart, urinary tract, and digestive system.

The MyPlate healthy eating guidelines recommend making half your plate fruits and vegetables. Cranberries can help meet your goals. They are naturally low in sugar- even lower than lemons – and require some sweetening to be palatable. 4 ounces of cranberry juice, ½ cup fresh berries, or ¼ cup dried cranberries is equal to one serving of fruit.

Cranberries can be used in so many ways. Most of us are familiar with cranberry juice based beverages. If you want less sugar you can buy unsweetened juice and lightly sweeten to taste. Dried cranberries make a good snack on their own and are also great in chicken salad, wrap sandwiches, oatmeal, granola, and yogurt or tossed on green salads. Fresh cranberries can be made into cranberry sauce, salsas, or barbecue style sauces. You can find many recipes at the US Cranberries website. Share your creations on Facebook!

Information for this article comes from the US Cranberries web site and from a presentation at FNCE given by Johanna Dwyer, DSc, RD, Professor of Medicine (Nutrition) and Community Health at Tufts University Medical School

© 2016 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

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