You know it is the holiday season when you see those bright red, tart little gems in the produce section of the grocery store. Cranberries not only brighten up any holiday dinner table, but they are also a dynamite source of antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body and protect against disease.
While cranberries, a close cousin to the beloved blueberry, are a great source of vitamin C and fiber, they have also caught the attention of nutrition researchers for their abundance of health promoting phytonutrients. Cranberries contain phenolic acids, proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, flavonoids, and triterpenoids; all of which have direct anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
Studies have shown cranberries to have anti-cancer benefits especially for breast, lung, colon, esophageal and prostate cancer. Proanthocyanadins from cranberry extract showed to inhibit cancer properties and induce cancer cell death in esophageal adenocarcinoma. Additionally, cranberry showed to have synergistic properties with some chemotherapy medications, increasing the cytotoxic effects and maximizing treatments.
Acute inflammation of the bladder is a common side effect for prostate cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. Even though it is well known that cranberry has been successfully used to prevent and treat bladder infections, cranberry has also shown to protect against damage to the bladder during radiation treatments.
All and all, the amazing health benefits of cranberry shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Since the phytonutrients in cranberries have such powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, they work directly on the two of the KEY RISK FACTORS decreasing the likelihood of cancer. This is great news this time of year when cranberries are at the peak of freshness!
What about cranberry juice?
Cranberry juice is typically loaded with sugar to decrease the trademark tart taste and make it more palatable. The processing (removing the phytonutrient rich skins and fiber) and the sugar renders the nutrient content slim to none. It is always best to buy fresh and prepare at home to maximize the health benefits.
What is on your holiday table?
I love cranberry sauce! Below is a one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE cranberry sauce recipes from Miss Tam over at Nom Nom Paleo. It is a Cran- Cherry sauce that gains its sweetness from cherries, apple and honey (should you even need to use any – its THAT good). I highly suggest you give it a try and let me know what you think!
Food is medicine!
By Michelle Tam, Nom Nom Paleo
6 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
6 ounces frozen sweet cherries (*protects against colorectal cancer and leukemia)
¾ cup apple juice (be sure to grab one that doesn’t have any added sugar)
½ tsp minced ginger (*ginger protects against colorectal and ovarian cancer)
pinch of salt
1-2 tbl honey (optional)
Place cranberries and cherries in a saucepan. Pour in the apple juice, minced ginger, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce to a simmer. Cook the sauce for 8-10 minutes or until its thickened and the fruit has broken down. Taste for sweetness and add honey if needed. Cool to room temperature and serve with your holiday dinner.
*This can be made up to 5 days in advance. Keep in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.
For detailed, step-by-step directions, please head over to Nom Nom Paleo and take a look.