Many of us only eat cranberries in three ways: cranberry juice, cranberry sauce and Jell-O. To most Americans, it feels like cranberry season is very nearly over. Perhaps a few berries will find themselves in our champagne glasses in a few days but, outside of juice, the fruit will disappear from our lives until next Thanksgiving. Even when drinking the juice, people won’t drink the bitter, sharp unsweetened version, they will most likely reach for the sugar-heavy cocktail. But, thinking of cranberries as a seasonal fruit is a mistake.
The health benefits of cranberries may come as a surprise. These tart berries pack more antioxidants into an ounce than green tea, blueberries and spinach. Their tartness is in part due to their low sugar content: 2 grams of sugar and 12 grams of carbs are all that is contained in a cup of cranberries. Everyone thinks that cranberries can fight UTIs, although the science doesn’t back that up. What you might not know is that they can help you control your blood sugar. And they do so much more than that, they can prevent ulcers, fight inflammation, aid heart health, protect against cancer. Additionally, they lower cholesterol, boost your immune system, aid digestion and help gum health.
While prepackaged dried cranberries should be avoided for their high sugar content, the fresh fruit can be incorporated into your diet despite their sharp taste from homemade smoothies to salsas and sandwich spreads. This salsa proves cranberries don’t need to be sweet to be enjoyable. With only 67 calories and 17 grams of carbs per serving, it’s a great salsa to enjoy with friends. Cranberries don’t need to be cooked to be edible however they are very high in acid which is important to know if you suffer from GERD. Brushing your teeth with fluoride prior to eating raw cranberries can protect your tooth enamel.
If you are in a sweet mood and don’t want to go raw, here is a delicious recipe for dessert bars. Each bar has only 166 calories and 20 grams of carbohydrates. And, if you like cranberry juice cocktail, a great idea is to get 100% cranberry juice concentrate and then knock it down with water and sweeten it with your favorite noncaloric sweetener, that way you get the benefits of cranberries but not all the added sugar. There are many ways to fit cranberry into your life so don’t stop consuming them when the snow disappears.