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Dried cranberries – Burgundy bits of delight

Dried cranberries are dehydrated versions of regular cranberries. The process is somewhat similar to how raisins are obtained from grapes. They make an impeccable ingredient for salads, bread, cereals, chocolates or can be consumed independently as well. Dried cranberries that are produced commercially might have some sugar and oil added to them as it enhances the sweetness and prevents the berries from sticking with each other. They are commonly used in many home-based recipes as well. When used for cooking, they are first soaked overnight in water in order to rehydrate them.

Dried cranberries have a dense burgundy colour and a tartish flavour. They are particularly sun-dried to obtain their peculiar bitter-sweet flavour.

Origin

Dried cranberries are derived from cranberries, which is a native American and Canadian crop. Belonging to the honeysuckle family of berry plants, they are mostly grown in the northern and central states of both America and Canada. Europe soon realised the potential of this fruit and started practising its cultivation. Being grown abundantly, they now have a fixed place in almost every grocery store and home. Their juice makes for a perfect sip of quick refreshment.

Nutritional value of dried cranberries

Regarding their nutritional value, 40 gm of cranberries possess the following:

  • Overall, 123 kcal supplied through carbs, fat and protein
  • 26 gm of sugar
  • 3 gm of fibre
  • 1 mg of sodium
  • 33 gm of carbs
  • 5 gm of fat
  • 4 mg of calcium

They are also rich in providing vitamins and minerals; mostly the vitamin B variant, which comprises of:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Vitamin B6

Dried cranberries also possess an abundance of vitamin C, which makes them a powerful antioxidant.

Benefits of consuming dried cranberries

Talking about cranberries and dried cranberries, they are packed with carbs and fibre. Both consist of insoluble fibres such as cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin, and sugar elements such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose. They are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K1, vitamin E, vitamin B and are rich in antioxidants too. Their consumption is a good way to replenish the body’s daily requirement of vitamins, minerals, and energy.

Let’s look at some of the major health benefits offered by cranberries and dried cranberries, together:

  1. Prevention of urinary tract infections (UTI)

Both cranberries and dried cranberries help in controlling and preventing urinary tract infections that are caused by bacteria. The chemical proanthocyanidins found in cranberries prevent the bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder and the urinary tract.

  1. Improved heart health

A glass of cranberry juice greatly increases the HDL (good cholesterol) levels and helps in reducing the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. It further protects the heart from oxidation. There are other components present in cranberries that greatly decrease the risk of inflammation in the blood vessels. Furthermore, they help in the avoidance of platelet buildup and reduce blood pressure.

  1. Reduced risk of cancer

Cranberries have a chemical, A-type proanthocyanidins that greatly cuts down the risk of contracting stomach cancer, inflammation and even ulcers. This chemical also works well while battling, colon, ovarian, liver, and prostate cancer

  1. Good source of antioxidants

The most common antioxidant found in cranberries is flavonoid polyphenols. It further comprises myricetin, peonidin, quercetin, and ursolic acid. These antioxidants work very well as anti-inflammatory sources within the human body. These antioxidants help against the triggering of inflammation that causes premature ageing, cognitive health depreciation and chronic illnesses.

  1. Immunity booster and strong digestive system

Cranberries are good immunity boosters. Having a rich source of vitamin C, they promote strong immunity and prevent UTIs, ulcers and various gum related diseases. They propagate the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that improves the digestive system. It also contains substantial fibre to counterfeit constipation and hunger.

Benefits for women

For women, cranberries offer some distinctive benefits in hair growth and skin health. The presence of vitamin C helps to strengthen the hair follicles and stimulates their growth. It also helps in the removal of free radicals from the body, giving smooth, glowing skin. The fibres present in them offer weight loss as they give a sense of fullness for a long duration of time. It further helps in averting osteoporosis, a type of pain in the joints. Oil extracted from dried cranberries provides relief to aching limbs. Women are also more prone to developing UTIs. Hence, consuming cranberry juice when experiencing symptoms, helps flush the bladder and urinary tract clean.

Risks of consuming daily

People on specific medication such as blood-thinning drugs must abstain from consuming cranberries daily. Cranberries and dried ones can also contribute to increased bleeding. Consuming cranberry products on a daily basis might also lead to the excretion of oxalate in urine and as a result, it could provoke the formation of kidney stones. Hence, people who have kidney ailments must refrain from consuming this fruit daily.

Conclusion

Although the health benefits are quite surmountable, one must consume cranberries in moderation to avoid any side effects. Dried cranberries have a long shelf life and hence can be enjoyed throughout the year whether eaten raw or added as an ingredient in any food.

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