An interesting fact about cranberries is that they are grown in what is called a “bog” and are one of the only fruits native to North America. Historically cranberry bogs were made by glaciers carving out cavities in the earth more than 10,000 years ago but today cranberries are grown in man-made bogs that provide the vines with layers of gravel, acidic peat soil and sand that creates a thriving environment for the plant.
One of the best-known benefits of cranberries is their role in supporting a healthy urinary tract. Cranberries contain many phytonutrients, polyphenols and the flavanol, proanthocyanidin (PAC). Research suggests that the PACs in cranberries help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) by inhibiting the harmful bacteria from reproducing and causing infection. Instead, the bacteria get pushed out in the urine and the risk of an infection is reduced. In addition to their antibacterial properties, cranberries also have anti-inflammatory properties and contain large amounts of antioxidants as indicated by a high ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) score.
Like other berries, cranberries are high in fiber with ~ 5 grams in 1 cup and low in overall sugar content but specifically low in fructose. Fruits are a combination of simple sugars – fructose, sucrose and glucose- with berries being considered a low fructose fruit – most of the sugar is coming from glucose which is easier to digest and tolerate compared to fructose. Additionally, cranberries are a great natural source of potassium and vitamin C.
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