Just the other day I was at a dinner party and our wonderful host made a fantastic cranberry tart. I have to say this is one of my favorite fruits. And it often makes me reminisce about Thanksgiving. It seems most people don’t bother eating this healthy fruit until Thanksgiving rolls around. And that’s unfortunate.
Like most berries, cranberries are loaded with antioxidants. But the health benefits don’t stop there.
Another study found that when obese men drink 250 mL (about 1 cup) of cranberry juice on a regular basis it increases their HDL cholesterol levels by up to 14%. HDL cholesterol is the good cholesterol and higher levels can significantly reduce your risks of heart disease.
Researchers note that the flavonoids in cranberries do a number of things to protect your heart. First, they prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing. When your LDL cholesterol oxidizes it triggers a chain reaction that results in damage to your arteries. They also prevent your blood platelets from becoming stuck together and forming clots.
Secondly, cranberries boost your immune system making it better able to react to oxidized LDL cholesterol in a healthy way and increase the overall flexibility of your arteries.
I guess good things really do come in small packages.
How to Get the Most From Cranberries
If you’re like most people, this all sounds good, but you’re not too sure how to integrate cranberries into your diet on regular basis. So here are a few ideas that can help.
Buy 100 percent juice, cranberry juice blends. Straight cranberry juice is very sour and it can be a little bit much for some people. Cranberry juice cocktails are usually filled with high fructose corn syrup, which is never good.
Your best bet is to buy a juice blend that contains only juice. These are tasty and don’t have any added sweeteners. My favorite is cranberry grape.
Buy dried cranberries to snack on. Dried cranberries are really tasty just by themselves, but they are also versatile. You can mix them in with yogurt, toss them into your favorite salad, or make your own trail mix with cranberries, nuts, coconut shavings, and dark chocolate.
Start cooking with cranberries. Whether you use dried or fresh cranberries, they can add a tasty twang to a sauce for chicken or seafood and they make a great stuffing for pork chops.
Your body gets a bunch of benefits when you eat (or drink) more cranberries, so make this small, tasty change today.
Mark Rosenberg, MD
Photo Credit: wikipedia