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It adds a tart, tangy burst of flavour to baking, sauces, snacks and beverages. Cranberries cannot be eaten without some processing, so some products may be fairly high in sugar.
Selection and storage
Peak time is the fall, so look for fresh-looking, plump, bright, dry berries. Most people still buy their cranberries canned or bagged. Try to choose bags with firm, plump, red berries, free of shrivels. Fresh cranberries can be refrigerated for one week, and they freeze well.
Cranberries contain only 44 calories per cup before processing and are rich in a variety of antioxidants. Once processed, some products may be diluted or loaded with sugar.
Cranberries are probably most well known for their effect in preventing and treating urinary tract infections, due to their condensed tannins, which prevent bacteria from sticking to the lining of the bladder wall.
Cranberries also prevent peptic ulcers and gastric cancers and improve dental hygiene. Flavonoids, phenolic compounds, and antioxidants in cranberries have been associated with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anticancer activity.
Their antioxidant activity is associated with reduced oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which can lead to the development of atherosclerosis.
Drinking cranberry juice, especially if it has not been watered down, is an easy way to reap the benefits of this healthy berry.
Contrary to popular belief, cranberries are not grown underwater, but on dry beds of low growing, vining, woody plants. Water is used to float the berries and make their collection easier.