Native to North America, cranberries are a perfect fit in almost any healthy diet. Naturally low in fat and calories, just one cup offers 5 grams of fiber, 51 calories, and 24% of the daily value of vit. C. Cranberries are also rich in the phytochemicals that are being investigated for their effect on various chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and improved oral health. The best known claim in the media is the link to urinary tract infections. In lab tests, the cranberry has been shown to prevent bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract wall, preventing and helping to treat infections. The increased hydration is also a benefit to UT health, so it has been difficult to give credit to the cranberry alone. Though the research is still preliminary, it is hard to dispute that cranberries are a delicious addition to a healthful eating plan. The American Dietetic Association and the American Heart Association recommend eating the whole fruits and 100% juice. Most cranberry juices are actually blends of other fruit juices in order to sweeten the extremely tart fruit, or they are loaded with sugars or corn syrup. Consumers need to beware of labels using "Cocktail" or "Juice blends." A cup of sweetened dried cranberries can contain a whopping 78 grams of added sugar and 370 calories. As always, it is best to seek out cranberries in their whole food form. When purchased fresh, they last for weeks. They can be ground into a relish and frozen to be used in baked goods or home made compotes and desserts. Dried cranberries can be added to pancakes or muffins, or tossed into salads. They add wonderful color as well as nutrition and flavor. The tart taste is a perfect topping for grilled fish; try a cranberry-lemon sauce on salmon, or a cranberry-mango relish on cod or mahi mahi.
With a little imagination, this New England wonder can become an addition to your table for which you will be thankful for all year 'round.