There are very few indiginous foods in our modern diets. Few foods which
are both native to North America and naturally suited to our climate. Most
foods we eat evolved in other parts of the world in much warmer climates.
Over the centuries we have adapted them to survive in colder climates and
cleared native plants to plant and grow them. If asked to name native
North American foods that we still eat, one of the few that come to mind
are cranberries. Like most good things we don't eat enough of them though.
Sure, cranberry flavored sugar water is popular but cranberries themselves
are still reserved for special occasions. Cranberries are good for you and
this would be a good year to start eating more of them.
Fresh Cranberries are back in the stores. All berries freeze well but
cranberries freeze the best. There are no end of things you can do with
cranberries but my favorite is plain old fashioned cranberry sauce. I just
follow the recipe on the back of the package, more or less. By more, I
like to add a few extra things in. Maybe a little orange juice or orange
slices. As far as sugar, add a little less thatn the recipe calls for.
1/4-1/2 cup white sugar per bag of cranberries is usually plenty. Try
substituting frozen juice concentrates or honey for the sugar if you like.
Buy up a year's supply as the supermarkets put them on sale as loss leaders
the week before Thanksgiving.
Cranberry Health Research Summary
Since 1984, many studies have confirmed that cranberries have numerous
health benefits, the foremost being its "anti-adhesion" effect on certain
bacteria. Cranberry juice cocktail contains proanthocyanidins, more
commonly known as condensed tannins, which actually "disable" certain
harmful bacteria that cause infection in the body, so the "bugs don't
The first scientific findings on cranberry were related to urinary tract
health. Most recently, emerging science suggests that cranberries may also
be powerful protectors of our health in other areas of the body.
Cranberries may inhibit certain bacteria in the stomach and oral cavity
through the same anti-adhesion mechanism that promotes urinary tract
health. While this research is still in the early stages, it is exciting
to consider the cranberry's importance as a promising therapeutic tool to
help fight bacteria naturally.
May 1984 - Journal of Urology
While trying to account for cranberry juice's unique urinary tract health
benefits, Youngstown State University researchers demonstrate that the
benefits may be related to the cranberry's ability to inhibit bacteria from
adhering to the walls of the urinary tract - thus reducing the risk of
infection. The researchers found that 15 ounces of cranberry juice
cocktail significantly inhibited the E. coli bacteria, which cause 80 to 90
percent of UTIs, from adhering to the urinary tract.
May 30, 1991 - The New England Journal of Medicine
Tel Aviv University researchers also describe the anti-E. coli adherence
property of cranberry juice and attempt to identify the specific components
in cranberries that cause this beneficial effect. They conclude that a
compound in cranberries of an "unknown nature" prevents certain E. coli
from adhering to the bladder's lining.
March 9, 1994 - Journal of the American Medical Association
Harvard Medical School researchers conduct the first well-controlled,
large-scale clinical trial to demonstrate that drinking cranberry juice
cocktail regularly significantly reduced bacteria from growing in the
urinary tract. The researchers found that the effect was not because of
more acidic urine (the urine of the cranberry juice drinkers was no more
acidic than those drinking a non-cranberry placebo drink) and speculated
that there was something specific in cranberry that prevented bacteria from
adhering to the urinary tract. This research was conducted with 153 women,
average age of 78, using 10 ounces of cranberry juice cocktail, which
contains 27 percent cranberry juice.
1997 - Journal of Family Practice
In a double-blind clinical trial, researchers from Weber State University
find that sexually active women between the ages of 18 and 45 who daily
consume a cranberry dietary supplement (from spray-dried cranberry juice)
for six months had a significantly lower risk of UTIs than women taking a
February 1998 - Journal of Urology
Building on the anti-adhesion theory, Tulane University School of Medicine
researchers find that cranberry juice actually changes the shape of E.
coli. Examining the effects of cranberry juice on the growth and
development of E. coli in the laboratory, the researchers found that the
hair-like structures that E. coli use to attach to cells in the bladder
were inhibited from growing in the presence of cranberry juice. This
provided the first visual observation of a change in structure of the
bacteria that would prevent them from attaching to cells in the urinary
October 8, 1998 - The New England Journal of Medicine - Proanthocyanidins
Rutgers-led scientists identify the active components in cranberries
responsible for maintaining urinary tract health as proanthocyanidins or
condensed tannins. The researchers concluded that the proanthocyanidins in
a daily 10-ounce glass of cranberry juice cocktail are responsible for
promoting urinary tract health.
January 2001 - Spinal Cord
Recurrent urinary tract infections frequently pose a serious problem for
hospitalized spinal cord-injured patients. A study was conducted with
patients comparing the effects of water and cranberry juice cocktail
consumption. The results indicate that the cranberry juice cocktail
significantly reduced bacteria from adhering to bladder cells and the water
intake had no effect on bacterial adhesion.
December 1998 - The Journal of the American Dental Association
Research from Tel Aviv University suggests that compounds in cranberries
may certain bacteria found in the mouth from adhering to teeth and to other
bacteria, apparently through the same type of anti-adhesion mechanism
through which they maintain urinary tract health. These bacteria have been
associated with periodontal gum disease. More research is needed to
provide an optimal product to deliver this benefit.
April 2000 - The University of Western Ontario
Research from the University of Western Ontario studies the effect of daily
consumption of cranberry juice and other cranberry products on human breast
cancer cell growth in animals. This preliminary research found that
cranberry components inhibited the development of tumors in mice injected
with human breast cancer cells. More research is needed to understand the
benefits to human health.
September 15, 2000 - International Conference and Exhibit on Nutraceuticals
and Functional Foods
Cranberry seeds are found to contain a higher level of tocotrienols,
powerful cancer-fighting antioxidants, than in any other plant. University
of Massachusetts-Amherst researcher Dr. Wasef Nawar's study reveals that
cranberry seed oil contains significant amounts of these potent forms of
Vitamin E without the palmitic acid found in other plants containing
April 2000 - University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse
Early results from an in vitro study from the University of
Wisconsin-LaCrosse suggest cranberry juice might promote cardiovascular
health. In the study, cranberry juice proved to be an effective
antioxidant, preventing artery-clogging LDL cholesterol from becoming
oxidized and thus causing more damage.
September 10-15, 2000 - International Conference on Polyphenols in
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison test a series of
cranberry flavonoid fractions in vitro and find that some of them prevent
LDL oxidation. The cranberry proanthocyanidin fraction was highly
effective in protecting the LDL from oxidation.
September 17, 2000 - International Conference and Exhibit on Nutraceuticals
and Functional Foods
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst discover that
cranberry seed oil contains high levels of omega 3 fatty acids and
tocotrienols, two compounds rarely found in plants, that are believed to
contribute to heart health. Omega 3 fatty acids, usually found in
unpleasant tasting fish oil, reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and
tocotrienols are believed to have implications in blood clotting.
October 2000 - Journal of Medicinal Foods
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse discover that
compounds found in cranberry extracts dilate blood vessels in rats, thereby
reducing their blood pressure. The researchers conclude that the flavonoids
and acanthocyanins in cranberry juice may provide the heart benefits of red
wine without the alcohol.
September 15 , 2000 - International Conference and Exhibit on
Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods
Researchers at Tel Aviv University find preliminary evidence that cranberry
may have a similar anti-adhesion effect on H. pylori, the bacteria that are
a cause of stomach ulcers. The in vitro study, using human gastric mucus
cells and a cranberry fraction, suggests that the cranberry's anti-adhesion
effect may prevent the bacteria from attaching to the stomach lining and
causing an ulcer. The findings also showed that cranberry could also
possibly reverse the adhesion of these bacteria.