Native Americans were the first recorded people to use cranberries medicinally and as a food, and they very possibly introduced the first English settlers of Massachusetts to the fruit (which could be why cranberries are such a traditional Thanksgiving element). Wisconsin and Massachusetts are currently the main producers of cranberries, which are traditionally harvested via a flooding technique. Many people think that cranberries constantly exist in a bog environment (floating on top of water), but the only time they’re truly water-bound is when they’re ready to be picked.
These sweet/tart berries aren’t often touted as a “superfood,” but based on some of their amazing health properties, we think they should definitely be considered as one.
Health Benefits Of Cranberries
One of the most wildly known benefits of cranberry consumption is the possible protection against urinary tract infections. The word possible is highlighted because a very recent study has called this benefit into question, but it should be noted that the study was done on a specific, small population, and the amount of cranberry extract (via a pill) that was used was also small.
According to research, proanthocyanidins (photochemicals that exist in cranberries) prevent bacteria from sticking to the unitary tract, which in turn makes it harder for UTIs to happen. Proanthocyanidins are strongest in raw cranberries, un-sweetened cranberry juice, and organic capsules, and it should be noted that a high dose needs to be ingested for the properties to work.
A lesser known health benefit of cranberries is their contribution to oral health. The same proanthocyanidins that keep bacteria from forming on the urinary tract also help keep certain bad oral bacteria — which causes cavities and gingivitis — from setting up shop in our mouths. Additionally, cranberries help improve the integrity of gum tissue.
As with all health changes, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before beginning any kind of supplement routine, but if you’re looking for another way to keep inflammation and germs at bay inside your body, a daily dose of cranberries is a terrific start.
Smoothie Recipes With Cranberries
We always use raw, organic cranberries in our smoothie recipes because we believe that’s the best way to utilize their benefits. If you’re looking to increase your cranberry consumption but don’t feel like drinking unsweetened juice (which is quite tart), try one of these recipes!
Cranberry Maple Morning
Fresh cranberries are one of the big stars of the holiday season, but it’s not just their sweet, tangy flavor that makes them so great. They’re little health powerhouses, packing a punch of vitamin C and antioxidants, as well as being one of the best natural ways to treat UTI infections. They’re also a low calorie and high fiber food. Another holiday favorite are walnuts, which are full of heart healthy fats and vitamin E. Lucuma is often used as a natural sweetener, and is bursting with beta-carotene and iron. No green smoothie is completely without a hearty green, and swiss chard is one of the best, full of magnesium, iron, fiber, and vitamins K, C and A.
Calming Cranberry Beet
Is your immune system feeling a little overworked? The antioxidant power of pomegranate, plus the high vitamin C content of beets, cranberries and tangerines will give you a healthy glow from the inside out. Beets are high in fiber and folate, and also in manganese, which helps support your liver (the liver processes toxins, and is usually greatly affected in times of stress). Ginger works to ease any stress-related inflammation, and walnuts provide the healthy kind of fat our body needs to burn energy efficiently.
Goji Cranberry Crimson
Native to South America, acai (ah-sigh-EE) berries are a good source of dietary fiber and are also rich in antioxidants. They’re also full of vitamin C. Goji berries are native to China, and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat everything from fever to diabetes. Goji berries also pack a punch of beta-carotene, which is great for the skin. The sweet / tart combination of mandarin oranges and cranberries gives this smoothie a good dose of vitamin C, fiber, and polyphenols, and walnuts may help reduce the risk of both prostate and breast cancer.
Cranberry Kumquat Tart
Like their larger cousins, oranges, kumquats have a lot of vitamin C. They’re also full of fiber and calcium. Low in calories, cranberries have enough antioxidant power to be practically categorized as a superfood, and are also one of the best natural ways to treat UTIs. Rich in Omega-3s and folic acid, walnuts also help lower bad cholesterol and inflammation. Mid-afternoon slump? Try this superfood snack!
In addition to a fiber-rich pear, cranberries add a sweet/tart zing and anti-inflammatory properties. Swiss chard is bursting with vitamins A, K and C, and flaxseed is full of Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and lignans - compounds found in plants that have been studied as cancer fighters. This low calorie, low fat tart-in-a-glass is the perfect way to toast to colder weather and your health at the same time.
Most people don’t think about cranberries after the holiday season, but regular consumption of this seasonal winter fruit has been linked to everything from lowered blood pressure to decreased occurrences of UTIs. The flavonoids in raspberries have been shown to help with everything from memory to heart health, and their tart sweetness is a welcome treat on a cold winter’s day. Maqui berries are one of the top antioxidant-rich foods, and have garnered superfood status because of their anti-viral and healthy cardiovascular properties. If you were a fan of that “cranapple cocktail” from a bottle back in the day, try this all-natural version (with added nutrients). We guarantee you’ll like this one better.
Red Sour Patch
If you’re always the one picking the red Sour Patch Kid candy out of the bag, you’ll love this immune-boosting snack. Beets are great at lowering inflammation in the body, while also possibly increasing stamina. Cranberries are another inflammation-lowering fruit, as is lemon. Add in an apple for fiber, and flaxseed for healthy Omega-3s and more fiber, and you have a sweet/tart smoothie that will boost your energy and help your skin look positively radiant.
Green Cranberry Ginger
In addition to helping to prevent urinary tract infections, cranberries have also been shown to lower blood pressure and upgrade oral health. By combining these tart, low-sugar fruits with grapes (known for their polyphenol power) pear (fiber), and ginger (a potent anti-inflammatory), you get a sweet smoothie with a hint of spice, along with tons of vitamins from chard (A and K, specifically) and flax (Omega-3). Snack smart with this low-calorie, low-fat treat!