Cranberries

Cranberries in cartons. (Photo by Unsplash+ In collaboration with Getty Images)

Antioxidants are chemicals that help the body fight disease-causing molecules. With their antioxidant capacity, superfoods such​ as berries, vegetables, and nuts have been shown tо prevent diseases such​ as heart disease and even cancer. Cranberries are one​ оf the healthiest berries because they contain high levels​ оf antioxidants. And, luckily for us, they​ gо well with practically any meal, especially holiday favorites!

Years of research shows that antioxidants help keep our cells healthy. Now, new research finds antioxidants may also help protect against dementia. Scientists report people with higher antioxidant levels may be less likely to ever develop a form of dementia. More specifically, study participants with the highest recorded levels of three antioxidants (lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin) present in their blood were much less likely to develop dementia decades later than others with much lower levels of those antioxidants.

Another study shows similar results in that eating a daily handful of cranberries could improve your memory and protect against dementia. British scientists say that the superfruit, most often eaten with turkey on Thanksgiving, boosts recall by increasing blood flow to the brain. “Cranberries are rich in these micronutrients and have been recognized for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” says lead researcher Dr. David Vauzour, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, in a statement. “We wanted to find out more about how cranberries could help reduce age-related neurodegeneration.”

In addition to their dementia-preventing capacity, consuming cranberries and cranberry products is also a great way to prevent a urinary tract infection (UTI). A recent review examined the benefits of cranberry products when it comes to symptomatic UTIs. Women who consumed cranberry juice or took supplements reduced their risk for the condition by more than a quarter. Children halved their risk, while people prone to recurring UTIs because of medical interventions displayed a 53-percent decreased risk.

All of the above are great reasons for consuming cranberries. However, if you still need more persuading, maybe heart health will do the trick! Recent research provides evidence that the polyphenols found within berries have a strong connection to healthy hearts. Cranberries in particular have an abundant amount of unique proanthocyanidins that offer distinct properties in comparison to the polyphenols in other fruits. Study authors conclude that eating roughly 100 grams of cranberries per day likely reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by strengthening blood vessel function. 

Cranberry Sauce photo by ayngelina on Openverse

The List: Best Cranberry Recipes with Disease-Fighting Powers

1. Superfood Cranberry Sauce by Whisk in Wellness

Cranberry sauce is one of the staples of any holiday dish. And with healthier ingredients, it can also be one of the healthiest items on the menu! “A quick and easy festive superfood cranberry sauce that is kicked up a notch with ingredients high in anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories, and over-all health improving qualities. Cinnamon, Goji berry powder, and acai powder are powerhouse foods that all protect your body against free-radicals, which ultimately lead to chronic illness and systemic stress. You get a delicious side dish plus tons of health benefits from this recipe,” writes Whisk in Wellness.

Key antioxidizing ingredients:

  • Cranberries
  • Goji Berry Powder
  • Acai Powder
  • Cinnamon
Superfood Cranberry Sauce Image from Whisk in Wellness

In addition to the nutrient-dense berries, this recipe calls for a healthier sugar alternative. “Instead of using white processed sugar like traditional cranberry sauce calls for, I instead used organic coconut sugar. I actually think it adds a richness to the dish that otherwise would not be there. Coconut sugar has its benefits as well – it offers a higher content of antioxidants, potassium, iron, and calcium. It also has a low glycemic index which helps the body manage blood sugar surges/spikes,” explains Whisk in Wellness.

Click Here for Full Recipe

2. Antioxidant-Packed Cranberry Salsa by Jackfruitful

Ever heard of Cranberry Salsa? Well, this little side dish packs a punch when it comes to taste and nutrients! “Not only is this Cranberry Salsa a stunning addition to your Thanksgiving table, but it’s also packed with nutrients and antioxidants, thanks to the star ingredients—cranberries and beets. Cranberries bring their tangy and slightly sweet taste, while the beets add earthy notes and a beautiful crimson hue to the mix. It’s the perfect balance of flavors, making it a versatile accompaniment to various dishes,” explains Jackfruitful.

Key antioxidizing ingredients:

  • Cranberries
  • Beets
  • Red Onion
  • Jalapeño
  • Cilantro Leaves
  • Garlic
  • Lime
Cranberry Salsa image from Jackfruitful

Wondering how to serve this at Thanksgiving? Jackfruitful adds, “Simply chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to marry, and then bring out the gluten-free crackers and vegan ricotta or cream cheese. Spread a dollop of creamy goodness on each cracker, generously top it with the Cranberry Salsa, and watch your guests savor every single bite! It’s an appetizer that’ll leave everyone talking and craving more.”

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3. Vegan Sweet Potato Salad with Cranberries by Healthier Steps

Sweet potatoes are also a favorite during the holidays. Pair them with the tart taste of cranberries, and you have a dish that is sure to be a crowd pleaser! “For those looking for an exceptional variety of side dishes, vegan sweet potato salad is the star of cookouts and potlucks. Sweet potatoes are rich in nutrients and low carb food, so for people who are on a low carb diet or conscious about health, this salad is the best choice for their daily diet,” says Healthier Steps

Key antioxidizing ingredients:

  • Cranberries
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Celery
  • Green onions
  • Garlic Powder
Vegan Sweet Potato Salad with Cranberries image from Healthier Steps

In addition to the “superberries” in this recipe, the sweet potatoes serve as a healthier ingredient, especially when it comes to the gut! “Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Roasting them with olive oil also helps in the process of vitamin absorption and helps regulate the body’s metabolism,” says Healthier Steps.

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4. Healthy Chocolate Cranberry Pancakes by Homestead Lady

“Cranberries are enormously good for you. Not only are they heart healthy, but they cleanse and restore on many levels, being full of phytonutrients (good parts of the berry that make you healthy). These nutrients have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and are often used to aid in the healing of ailments like bladder infections,” states Homestead Lady. “Cranberries integrate easily into baked goods, including these super simple cranberry chocolate pancakes.”

Key antioxidizing ingredients:

  • Cranberries
  • Goji Berry Powder
  • Acai Powder
  • Cinnamon
a stack of chocolate pancakes with berries on top
Chocolate Pancakes with Cranberries Photo by Clara Farràs

For this specific recipe, you will need cranberry powder. But not to worry! Homestead Lady explains how to dehydrate and blend cranberries to get the nutritious cranberry powder we need. “Add 1-2 cups of dehydrated cranberries to a high-powdered blender. Turn the blender onto high and blend in 20-30 second bursts, scraping the sides in between. Once you’ve powdered all the dehydrated cranberries, scrape out the powder onto a cookie sheet in a thin layer. If you live in a humid climate like mine, put the cookie sheet in the oven at its lowest temperature for about an hour. Or you can place the powder back in your dehydrator on its lowest setting. Allow the cranberry powder to cool and place in airtight jars with an oxygen absorber.”

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5. Heart-Healthy Cranberry Smoothie by Everyday Health

Cranberries are a great source of antioxidants, fiber, manganese, and vitamins C, E, and K, but due to their tart taste, many recipes call for added sugar to enjoy them. “It’s clear that eating more cranberries can be great for anyone’s health, but how to enjoy them without all the added sugar? There are a couple of great options. First, cranberries can be cooked on the stovetop or roasted in the oven to reduce their tartness. They can be enjoyed on top of oatmeal or even in a savory dish such as roasted chicken. Alternatively, they can be paired with another fruit that’s naturally sweet to bump up the nutrition without the pucker. That’s exactly what happens in this delicious smoothie,” says Everyday Health.

Key antioxidizing ingredients:

  • Cranberries
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
Cranberry Smoothie image by Olga Lepeshkina/iStock

Everyday Health adds, “Pairing the tartness of cranberries with the natural sweetness of a banana makes for a delicious smoothie without any added sugar! This 3-ingredient smoothie comes together in a flash and is as easy to prepare as it is to enjoy.”

Click Here for Full Recipe

Superfoods for the Season

“Superfoods” are nutrient-dense foods full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Because of their makeup, they help fight illnesses from the common cold to neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Many of these foods also contain high levels of prebiotics that help maintain a healthy gut. The antioxidants in these foods act as suppressors for molecules known as “free radicals” that have been shown to cause cancers. When we consume superfoods, such as cranberries, we help our bodies stay healthy, prevent aging, diseases, and even cancer! So, what other foods are considered superfoods? Let’s start with a list of some superfoods for the season!

  • Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes, and Winter Squash
  • Broccoli, Green Beans, Spinach, and Parsley
  • Apples, Oranges, Figs, and Pears
  • Pecans, Walnuts, and Almonds
  • Cinnamon, Cloves, and Turmeric

If you have a favorite cranberry dish you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments below!

About Amanda Christmas

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