Food Styling: Rheanna Kish | Prop Styling: Aurelie Bryce
’Tis the season for this festive fruit!
Familiar to us in delicious sauces or jellies on holiday tables, cranberries can also be eaten raw in salads, baked into breads and muffins or sipped as juice. Native to the banks of marshes and wetlands in northeastern North America, the berries are harvested when they float to the surface of the water in the fall and are exposed to more direct sunlight, which adds to their nutritional value. This tart superfood is full of healthful vitamins, minerals and other powerful phytonutrients.
- Boss Berries: Cranberries may guard against inflammation and offer protection against disease. Research indicates their phyto nutrients may lower levels of bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol, decrease stiffness in blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Rich in vitamins C and E, cranberries’ antioxidants help boost the immune system and can protect against chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease and cancer. They also contain significant amounts of salicylic acid, a component of aspirin. Regular consumption of cran berries can increase absorption of dietary salicylic acid in the body; salicylic acid has antiinflammatory effects that may help reduce swell ing and prevent blood clots.
- Bacteria Blockers: Distinct from other berries, cranberries’ bioactive compounds are rich in Atype pro anthocyanidins (PACs), in contrast to the Btype PACs present in most other fruit. Also called condensed tannins, these Atype PACs seem to be responsible for the fruits’ efficacy as a natural antimicrobial and may have the potential to pre vent biofilm formation, the precursor to an infection, by blocking bacteria from attaching to cells in the body. This explains why cranberries have long been upheld as a preventive treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs). UTIs are among the most common bacterial infections, especially among women, and cranberries’ PACs may prevent the intestinal bacterium E. coli from adhering to the lining of the bladder and urinary tract. These unique plant compounds have also been found to prevent the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (a major cause of stomach cancer, stomach inflammation and ulcers) from attaching to the lining of the stomach, and to prevent bacteria in the mouth like the cavitycausing Streptococcusmutans from sticking to the teeth.
- Mighty Microbiome: The food we eat not only nourishes our bodies but also feeds beneficial bacteria in the intestines, our microbiome. Prebiotics are molecules we eat but cannot digest; they may promote the growth and health of micro organisms in our digestive system. Special sugars contained in cran berries’ cell walls, called xyloglucans, can’t be digested by the human body itself; however, beneficial bacteria in our intestines can break down these sugars into useful molecules and feed our microbiome. Other compounds derived from cranberries, such as salicylate, are also associated with beneficial modulation of human gut microbiota. Cranberries may help enrich the microbiota of the gut by increasing populations of bacteria like Bacteroidaceae, gener ally regarded as important members of a healthy microbiome, while reducing populations of E. coli, which are associated with Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Try this superfood in our Pickled Cranberry Preserves (pictured above).