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Tiny fruit but big health benefits

Published 7:17pm Saturday, November 2, 2013
Dried cranberries. Photo courtesy of Cranberry Marketing Committee
Dried cranberries. Photo courtesy of Cranberry Marketing Committee

The tiny cranberry shines in November. The red hue sparkles like a jewel in many holiday dishes. But just because it’s small in size doesn’t mean it’s tiny in benefits.

Cranberries have anti-adhesion properties — which really just means “anti-sticking” effects.  Why is this beneficial?

•Half of all women and some men will suffer from a urinary tract infection (UTI) at least once in their lifetimes. Studies have found that people who drink cranberry juice or eat cranberries daily can significantly lower their risk of a recurring UTI.

•Substances found naturally in cranberries can prevent bacteria from sticking to the stomach wall. The anti-sticking effects of cranberries assist in protecting the stomach and intestine.

•Cranberries can have positive effects on the heart and blood vessels because of flavonoids – a naturally occurring, protective substance that can help positively influence cholesterol levels and promote healthy blood flow.

You may have heard that if you are taking Coumadin that you are unable to eat cranberries.  However, in October 2011, the Food and Drug Administration updated its recommendation: Eating cranberries or drinking cranberry juice does not pose a risk to those on Coumadin therapy.

A serving of cranberries to offer protection looks like:

·   ¼ cup fresh cranberries

·   1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries

·   ¼ cup cranberry sauce

·  2 ounces 100% cranberry juice

·   8 ounces 27% cranberry juice cocktail

Dried cranberries are sweetened because they are low in sugar and high in acidity.  Since you’re not likely to eat them on their own, they must be made more appetizing with a little sugar.  Here are some ways to add dried cranberries to your day:

•Snack on ¼ cup dried cranberries mixed with ¼ cup walnuts.

•Top oatmeal at breakfast.

•Add dried cranberries to muffins or quick breads.

•Add dried cranberries to your cold cereal.

•Spread peanut butter on celery and line with dried cranberries for “red ants on a log.”

•Add dried cranberries to stuffing or rice pilaf dishes.

•Stir in dried cranberries with walnuts for a flavorful chicken salad.

•Create a tasty crust of dried cranberries and walnuts or pecans for roasted pork.

•Top a whole-grain mini-bagel with a blend of dried cranberries, pecans and cream cheese.

Holiday Green Beans and Cranberries

Serves 6

All you need

•1-1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed

•½ cup dried cranberries

•1 tablespoon butter

•1 teaspoon grated orange peel

All you do

1. In a medium saucepan, cook beans in 2 cups boiling water, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender-crisp.

2.  Drain and transfer to a serving bowl. Stir in cranberries, butter and orange peel. Serve immediately.

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