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What makes a cranberry mighty? Antioxidants, resveratrol, and much more…

At dinner tomorrow, when you’re gathered around giving thanks with family and friends, if someone offers you cranberry sauce, or a slice of cranberry bread, or cranberry ANYthing–don’t even think about it.

The answer is YES.

You can thank me later.

Singing the hero

I know you’ve probably got many things to do and places to be on this holiday getaway-day, so I’ll get right to the heart of it: The cranberry is the unsung hero of Thanksgiving dinner.

Here are ten reasons why:

1) Cranberries contain plenty of vitamin C–exactly what you need as the busy socializing of the holiday season gets underway.

2) Cranberries are loaded with antioxidants. A few years ago I told you about a study that examined more than 100 different types of fruits, vegetables, beans and other foods. Cranberries ranked number six, right behind blueberries, and well ahead of strawberries, apples,
cherries, and plums.

3) The cranberry is an excellent source of resveratrol, the anti-inflammatory compound that’s been shown to protect heart and nerve cells while also assisting in DNA repair — one of the keys to fighting cancer.

4) And speaking of cancer, cranberry bioflavonoids have been linked to prevention of several cancers, including breast, prostate, colon and lung. In fact, scientists have discovered that cranberry components play a role in no less than five different anti-cancer mechanisms.

5) Cranberries help increase HDL cholesterol.

6) Cranberry juice helps prevent gum disease by killing bacteria that promotes dental plaque.

7) Cranberry juice helps prevent Helicobacter pylori from attaching to the gastric wall. H. pylori is the cause of nearly all gastric ulcers and also contributes to food allergies.

8) As many women know, cranberry juice helps clear up urinary tract infections. But a New England Journal of Medicine study shows that cranberry juice can actually prevent the infection in the first place. It stops E. coli from attaching to the bladder wall.

9) Cranberries reduce risk of kidney stone formation.

10) Cranberries relieve asthma by dilating the bronchial tubes.

And here’s a final bonus reason to enjoy cranberries: They taste great. Well, as long as you like tart, of course. And that can be a problem because sugar is often used to offset tartness. It’s especially a problem for those who use cranberry juice to fight off urinary tract infection because sugar actually feeds the infection.

There you have it: 10-plus-one reasons to indulge yourself when the cranberry sauce is passed around the table tomorrow.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

“Lipophilic and Hydrophilic Antioxidant Capacities of Common Foods in the United States” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Vol. 52, No. 12,

“ unlocks the secret powers of cranberries” November 2005,

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