While most of us know that cranberries are regulars at our Thanksgiving dinners; that they can be made into lovely holiday tree decorations; and they are often prescribed for preventing urinary tract infections. But cranberries have many more health benefits you may not be aware of including the fact that they help to relieve ulcer symptoms; they aid in gum disease prevention; and they help to increase good levels of HDL cholesterol.
Cranberries are only edible when cooked. They are hard, bitter berries that are primarily water harvested, meaning they are grown in bogs and harvested as they float on the surface.
American Indians harvested and cooked cranberries, sweetening them with honey or maple syrup. They are grown around the world but in the U.S. you find them mainly Wisconsin, Washington and Oregon.
The dark red color of the berries is due to its abundance of tannins that not only make a great red dye, but also are astringents to help tissues constrict. They also have antibiotic properties and Native Americans used them to avoid infections and help wounds stop bleeding more quickly.
Cranberries are packed with good for you antioxidants, phytonutrients, anti-inflammatories, and proanthocyanidins (PACs). These compounds can benefit a body in many ways.
Ulcer Symptoms and Prevention
A bacterium called H. pylori is one of the main causes of stomach ulcers, also known as peptic ulcers. These are painful sores in the lining of the stomach and part of the small intestine called the duodenum. The PACs in cranberries prevent H. pylori from sticking to the lining of the stomach and intestines and causing ulcers to form. They also reduce inflammation and their antibiotic properties keep infections from invading stomach tissues.
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Gum Disease Prevention
Plaque is a major cause of tooth decay and the development of periodontal (gum) disease. In studies conducted by New York University in Rochester, cranberries helped prevent harmful bacteria that causes plaque from sticking to teeth, much in the same way it prevents bacteria causing ulcers.
Increase Levels HDL Cholesterol
HDL cholesterol is a beneficial because it cruises around in your bloodstream and mops up excess bad LDL cholesterol. In a study published by the British Journal of Nutrition, men with moderately high levels of LDL cholesterol experienced a significant increase in the amount of HDL in their blood stream that lowered their overall bad cholesterol levels. The effect of cranberry juice on HDL is attributed to its extremely potent concentration of flavonoids.
Cranberries For Everyone
With virtually no side-effects and a host of positive health benefits, drinking cranberry juice (organic, without a lot of sugar) or making up a batch of sauce for your turkey sandwich could be a easy way to improve your health. If you have a history of gum disease, ulcers or high cholesterol it makes good sense to start serving this Thanksgiving side dish ingredient year-round.