Apples and Pumpkins and Cranberries, Oh My!

Like other dark colored berries, cranberries are a superfood and antioxidant powerhouse. These ruby-red beauties may are anti-inflammatory and packed with antioxidants and they rank just below blueberries (often called the king of antioxidants) in antioxidant potency.

Scientific Health Benefits of Cranberries

The vitamin C in cranberries supports immunity and is required to make collagen, so it plays a key role in skin and joint health and overall healing.

You may have used this method of self-healing at some point in your life, and according to a 2020 study in the Future Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences certain products made of cranberries can help prevent and treat urinary tract infections by interfering with the ability of bacteria to stick to the walls of the urinary tract. This same type of natural defense also happens in the mouth to fight gum disease, according to research published in a 2019 issue of the IOSR Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences.

A 2018 study in OMICS showed that consuming cranberries can create a positive shift in the beneficial gut bacteria tied to immunity, mood, and digestive health. The fiber in whole or dried cranberries also helps prevent constipation and supports digestive health.

Cranberries have been shown to help improve artery flexibility. This means enhanced circulation and blood flow, which takes the pressure off the heart and can help lower blood pressure, according to the study in The Journal of Nutrition. Better circulation can also boost energy and cognitive function. The same study also provided evidence that cranberry juice protects heart health by reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides (blood fats), and insulin resistance (a risk factor for type 2 diabetes).

Certain compounds in cranberries have been shown to slow the growth of tumors of the breast, colon, lung, and prostate, according to research published in a 2016 issue of the journal Antioxidants.

A 2015 study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that people who consume cranberries have lower levels of C-reactive protein, a blood marker of inflammation, which is a known trigger of premature aging, chronic illness, and cognitive decline.

So, are you ready to start adding cranberries to your menu, if you don’t already?

How to Enjoy Cranberries

Fresh cranberries, naturally bitter due to high levels of tannins, will bounce like a rubber ball. Look for fresh or frozen berries (which can be used interchangeably) and unsweetened 100% juice. Because cranberries are on the tart side, sugar or syrup is often added, or the juice is combined with a sweeter variety, like apple juice. But you can control the amount of sugar by creating your own recipes and adding a little at a time to suit your taste buds.

Cranberries can be blended into smoothies or added to any recipe to add dybamic color, texture and flavor. Try a cupful, warmed over low heat on the stovetop in a bit of 100% orange juice with a touch of maple syrup, freshly grated ginger root, cinnamon, and cloves and use as a warm or chilled topping for anything from greens and veggies to spaghetti squash and sweet potatoes.

Don’t forget dried cranberries! Opt for unsweetened or 100% fruit-juice-sweetened dried cranberries and fold them into nut butter, toss them onto salads and whole grains, or add to energy balls and “bark” made from melted dark chocolate and nuts. Whichever way you choose to add cranberries to your recipes, you will not be disappointed in the sudden burst of sharp, crisp, tart flavors when paired with other ingredients.

Check out for a variety of cranberry related recipes for any occasion and let me know what you decide to try and how you enjoyed it. I will be tryin the Ginger Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread Cookies by Andy at Beautiful Eats & Things. They look beautiful and will be a real treat in place of my usual shortbread cookies we make every year.

Check out last year’s Cranberry Cutie Smoothie recipe. This year, I have added cranberries to my pumpkin smoothies, oatmeal bowls, chia puddings and I always make a cranberry salsa or sauce for Thanksgiving.

Enjoy your explorations!