Cranberries in History.
Cranberries are native to North America and were used as a treatment for bladder and kidney diseases. Some Native Americans used them as a symbol of peace.
By around 1620, the Pilgrims learned how to use them from Native Americans and they used them for treating poor appetites, stomach complaints, blood disorders and Scurvy.
The name cranberry is derived from the German ‘kraanbere’ (English translation, cranberry). Missionary John Eliot was the first to name them ‘cranberries’ in 1647.
Cranberry juice was first made by American settlers in 1683.
Cranberries have only been a domesticated crop in the past 100 years or so.
They are also known as ‘bearberries’ because bears like to eat them.
As fresh cranberries are hard, sour and bitter, 95% of them are processed and used to make cranberry juice, sauce, compote and jam.
In 2016, Europe was the largest importer of them.
Health Benefits of Cranberries.
May prevent the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. The latest medical studies have shown that the antioxidants in cranberries can prevent the development of Alzheimer’s.
May reduce the risk of Heart Disease. A study in 2019 revealed that supplementing your diet with cranberries can manage blood pressure and reduce your BMI (Body Mass Index). In another study, 78 overweight or obese participants, found their blood sugar levels improved, along with signs of inflammation and their ‘good’ cholesterol levels, by drinking low-calorie cranberry beverages and eating a lot of plant based foods every day.
May boost your immune health. Research in 2016, revealed that cranberries or compounds in cranberries had the effects of triggering the death and slowing the growth of cancer cells and reducing inflammation.
May promote good oral health. Cranberries contain antioxidants known as ‘proanthocyanidins’ (PACs) which can prevent bacteria from binding to the surface of your teeth. Therefore, helping to prevent gum disease.
Help with weight loss. They’re full of fibre which helps you stay full longer but also, the juice has an emulsifying effect on the fats deposited in your body which help them digest better.
Keep in check antibiotic resistance. A study from McGill University in Canada found that when cranberry extract was added with antibiotics, this made the bacterial cell wall more permeable to the antibiotic. The bacteria struggled to pump out the antibiotic.
Warning. If you take Warfarin, be careful because the high content of vitamin K can interfere with it. And go easy on cranberry juice. Too much could lead to kidney stones.
I may upset people with this next sentence. I don’t like cranberry sauce! I quite like dried cranberries, and I like the Irish group, The Cranberries! (See video below if you’ve never heard of them. I know. Completely irrelevant but it is Christmas time!) However, I’m going to look out for frozen ones. And I love my partner’s cranberry flapjacks!
Sources: justfunfacts.com, seriousfacts.com, soft schools.com, factslegend.org, medicalnewstoday.com, healthline.com, webmd.com, bbcgoodfood.com, ndtv.com, health.com,