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Cranberry: Healthful & Delicious!

Still feeling full after your Thanksgiving dinner? If you included cranberries in your meal, you can feel very good about some of your choices. Raw cranberries are often called superfruits. But before we get to the nutrition, we wanted to share some history of the cranberry – one of our favorite fruits and a great addition to MyPlate healthy choices.

In The Beginning

Cranberries grow in bogs in cooler regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Located in the Northern Hemisphere, we can tell you that many communities claim to be the cranberry capital including Middleborough, Massachusetts, Bandon, Oregon, Ottawa Canada – and Warrens, Wisconsin, the location pictured here with Clara Cranberry the Garden Hero. The cranberry bogs are striking in their color. Worth a visit! The name cranberry comes from “craneberry” as early European settlers to the US thought that the cranberry flower looked like a crane. Native Americans were the first to use cranberries as food. In fact, cranberries were part of the original Thanksgiving meals.

Medicinal Benefits

Cranberries have always been recognized for their medicinal value, Native Americans used them to treat wounds. Recent research has found other healthy and nutritious uses. According to Wikipedia, cranberry juice is noted a high molecular weight non-dializable material that prevents tooth decay and may also help prevent kidney stones. Raw cranberries are a source of polyphenol antioxidants that are thought to benefit the cardiovascular system and immune system, and as anti-cancer agents. Cranberry tannins have laboratory evidence for anti-clotting properties and may prevent recurring urinary tract infections in women.

Favorite Foods

As much as 95 percent of cranberries harvested are processed into juice drinks, sauce, and sweetened dried cranberries; while 5 percent are sold fresh to consumers. According to the USDA, the forecast for the 2011 cranberry crop is 7.50 million barrels, up 10 percent from 2010. If realized, this will be the second largest production on record.

You can find recipes in main courses, muffins, snacks, cocktails – you name it, it seems almost anything can be made tastier and healthier with cranberries. You can a range of recipes (including some State Fair winners) on the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association website.

Do you have a cranberry recipe to share? Please send it our way!

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