Nancy's Nutrition Corner

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food," Hippocrates.

Complementary Cranberries

Cranberries not only complement the taste of your turkey and decorate your holiday table, they also have many health promoting properties as well. Cranberries are rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, and they are a good source of dietary fiber, manganese and vitamin K.

Historically, Native American Indians used cranberries to treat urinary tract infections and other ailments. Current research has revealed that cranberries, cousins to blueberries, contain significant amounts of phyto-nutrients that help protect against heart disease, cancer, stomach ulcers, gum disease and dental cavities.

Urinary Tract and Gastrointestinal
Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins which prevent the adhesion of bacteria to the bladder wall, thus thwarting potential urinary tract infections. Cranberries are unable to cure an already established bladder or kidney infection, and should be used as a preventative or in conjunction with other treatments for UTI’s. Cranberry juice can inhibit the adhesion of Helicobacter pylori to gastric mucosa, aiding in the prevention of peptic ulcers.

Oral Health
Research shows that cranberry juice interferes with the ability of Streptococcus mutans to adhere to the enamel of teeth, thus preventing the development of cavities and gum disease.

Antioxidants and Heart Disease
When compared to many commonly eaten fruits, cranberries have been shown to contain higher concentrations of antioxidant phenols. These antioxidants help prevent heart disease, cancer and more.

Not only have cranberries been found to lower LDL (bad cholesterol levels) and raise HDL (good cholesterol), cranberries also contain large amounts of the compounds which inhibit LDL oxidation, thus offering protection against atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries).

People taking Warfarin or Coumadin should avoid cranberry juice as it increases the effects of these medications.

People with pre-existing kidney or gallbladder disease should avoid eating cranberries as they contain oxalates and may exacerbate the development of stones.

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Nancy Silva, ND is a licensed naturopath with a penchant for good food. Her monthly column discusses the nutritional aspects of some of the foods available through LocalHarvest. You can contact Nancy from her listing on our website.

Back to the November 2007 Newsletter