Health benefits of cranberries: Why you should eat more of the superfood

Cranberries may be one of the most underrated members of the berry family.

Rich with antioxidants and high in fibre, cranberries have serious health benefits including promoting digestion and helping control blood sugar.

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But before you load up on extra cranberry sauce over Thanksgiving, it’s important to note that raw cranberries are the most nutritious variation of the fruit. Dried cranberries might be tasty, too, but like sauce, they’re high in sugar.

“Many of the cranberries we eat these days are sweetened and dried, and those are slightly different than eating an actual raw cranberry, which are far more tart,” explained Jennifer Sygo, a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist. To reap the health rewards of the superfood, Sygo suggests sticking with raw ones.

Cranberries are low in sugar

Cranberries are great because they’re one of the lowest-sugar fruits. While dried cranberries and cranberry cocktail have sugar added, raw cranberries are naturally less sweet, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar.

Cranberries may also help control blood sugar, too, Sygo said.

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“There is some research out there suggesting that when a person consumes cranberries as part of a fatty meal — like a Thanksgiving meal — that they can actually help reduce the impact of that meal on blood sugar,” she said.

In other words, cranberries can reduce the chance of a significant blood sugar spike, something that’s common when you eat heavy foods.

“We don’t want big, big spikes in blood sugar. That’s hard on our bodies — especially if you have diabetes,” she explained.

Cranberries promote digestive health

Cranberries may be tiny, but they’re loaded with fibre. “A cup of cranberries provides five grams of dietary fibre,” Sygo said.

This is good for your digestive track, she said, as it helps promote regular bowel movements. Fibre is also good for weight management, as it keeps you fuller longer and therefore less likely to overeat.

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Cranberries are low in calories

Raw cranberries are super low in calories, as a cup only has 50 calories, Sygo said. By comparison, a medium-sized banana has about 110 calories, and a cup of blueberries is about 80 calories.

Because cranberries are so rich in nutrients and low in calories, they’re great from a weight-loss perspective, Sygo explained.

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“Cranberries among the lowest calories of any fruit that’s out there,” she said. This means they’re a great addition to cooking and baking recipes, and a healthy topping for yogurt or granola.

Cranberries are good for your vascular system

Cranberries might have a positive affect on our vascular system, Sygo said. She said there’s some evidence that suggests the superfood helps increase flow-mediated dilation.

“Basically what that means is help to keep the blood flowing through your arteries, through your heart, through your vascular system,” she explained.

“That allows the whole system to be more younger and more vibrant.”

Laura.Hensley@globalnews.ca

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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