Cranberries contain high levels of antioxidants and tannins offering tremendous health benefits. Oxalates are also found in cranberries, though, which can cause issues for some people.
Cranberries are extremely good for you offering a large water content, fiber, low carbohydrates and important vitamins and minerals. Did you know that each cranberry is roughly 88% water by weight? That’s a great amount to help keep you hydrated.
The fiber content isn’t very much in cranberries, but that’s because water makes up so much of the berry. All in all a cup of whole cranberries only contains about 4.5 grams of fiber, not enough to have much of an effect on your body. It does, however, balance the 4 grams of sugar found in this serving of berries. The carbohydrate load in cranberries is also pretty low and a 1 cup serving contains about 46 calories.
When we look at the vitamins in cranberries, we will find some amount of vitamin E, K, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and folate, but by far vitamin C is in the lead at 15% of the recommended daily value. We also find a good amount of most minerals in cranberries, with the most prevalent being manganese at 16% of the RDA. Many of these, like vitamin C and E and manganese act as antioxidants in the body helping to eliminate free radicals that can be detrimental to health. Vitamin C also boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, promotes skin health, and lowers the risk of developing cancer.
Polyphenols like quercetin, myricetin, and peonidin found in cranberries also act as antioxidants. Antioxidants are responsible for preventing cell damage caused by oxidation which causes aging and breakdown. Unchecked, these types of effects on cells can lead to an increased risk of certain disease development. Polyphenols, like ursolic acid found in the cranberry peel, can also act an as anti-inflammatory agent. Others like a-type proanthocyanidins contain tannins. Tannins give cranberries their characteristic bitter taste while acting as an anti-microbial for the plant itself. They have physiological effects on the body after consumption including lowering blood pressure, increasing blood clotting time, decreasing blood lipid levels and modulating immune responses.
Cranberries do, however, contain oxalates which should be a consideration if you have kidney health issues or if you are prone to kidney stones. Oxalates can bind with calcium and form calcium oxalate kidney stones, the most common type. That is not to say that people who get these type of kidney stones should not eat cranberries or other oxalate-rich foods. Moderation is the key to full enjoyment, like all foods.
Possible long-term side effects
- kidney stones
Ingredients to be aware of
- provides vitamins and minerals
- decreases risk of developing cancer
- decreases blood pressure
- decreases blood lipid levels
- improves blood clotting time
- boosts immune system
- promotes skin health
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Written by Kristin Brown, DC, MS | 09-29-2016
Written by Kristin Brown, DC, MS
Suggest improvement or correction