Cranberries

About Cranberries

Cranberries Nutritional Profile
Energy value (calories per serving): Low

Protein: Low
Fat: Low
Saturated fat: Low
Cholesterol: None
Carbohydrates: High
Fiber: Low
Sodium: Moderate
Major vitamin contribution: Vitamin C

Major mineral contribution: Iron, potassium

About the Nutrients in Cranberries
Cranberries are nearly 90 percent water. The rest is sugars and dietary fiber, including insoluble cellulose in the skin and soluble gums and pectins in the flesh. Pectin dissolves as the fruit ripens; the older and riper the cranberries, the less pectin they contain.


Cranberries also have a bit of protein and a trace of fat, plus moderate amounts of vitamin C. One-half cup cranberries has 1.6 g dietary fiber and 6.5 mg vitamin C (11 percent of the RDA). One-half cup cranberry sauce has 1.5 g dietary fiber and 3 mg vitamin C.

The Most Nutritious Way to Serve Cranberries
Relish made of fresh, uncooked berries (to preserve the vitamin C, which is destroyed by heat) plus oranges.

Diets That May Restrict or Exclude Cranberries
Low-fiber diet


Buying Cranberries
Look for: Firm, round, plump, bright red berries that feel cool and dry to the touch.

Avoid: Shriveled, damp, or moldy cranberries. Moldy cranberries may be contaminated with fusarium molds, which produce toxins that can irritate skin and damage tissues by inhibiting the synthesis of DNA and protein.

Storing Cranberries
Store packaged cranberries, unwashed, in the refrigerator, or freeze unwashed berries in sealed plastic bags for up to one year.

Preparing Cranberries
Wash the berries under running water, drain them, and pick them over carefully to remove shriveled, damaged, or moldy berries. Rinse frozen berries. It is not necessary to thaw before cooking.

What Happens When You Cook Cranberries
First, the heat will make the water inside the cranberry swell, so that if you cook it long enough the berry will burst. Next, the anthocyanin pigments that make cranberries red will dissolve and make the cooking water red. Anthocyanins stay bright red in acid solutions and turn bluish if the liquid is basic (alkaline). Cooking cranberries in lemon juice and sugar preserves the color as well as brightens the taste. Finally, the heat of cooking will destroy some of the vitamin C in cranberries. Cranberry sauce has about one-third the vitamin C of an equal amount of fresh cranberries.

Medical Uses and/or Benefits of Cranberries
Urinary antiseptic. Cranberry juice is a long-honored folk remedy for urinary infections. In 1985, researchers at Youngstown (Ohio) State University found a "special factor" in cranberries that appeared to keep disease-causing bacteria from adhering to the surface of cells in the bladder and urinary tract. In 1999, scientists at study at Rutgers University (in New Jersey) identified specific tannins in cranberries as the effective agents.

 

Food/Drug Interactions in Cranberries
Methenamine. Foods than acidify urine appear to make this urinary antiseptic more effective. Cranberry juice, which produces hippuric acid, does make urine more acid, but the Youngstown research (see Medical uses and/or benefits, above) raises questions about exactly why cranberries and/or cranberry juice are useful for patients with a urinary infection.

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