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Crazy for Cranberry
Just the mere mention of the word cranberry can create an instantaneous flow of juices in the mouth as one thinks of the unmistakably tart taste of this powerful red berry.
We may conjure up images of cranberry sauce, a staple at every Thanksgiving dinner or think of the ever-popular unsweetened cranberry juice. Whatever our initial association is, we all know that this super berry is incredibly healthy for us.
Cranberries have long been revered in the diet and in traditional medicinal preparations, particularly in the Native American tradition. Although they have an incredibly sour taste, they can be easily added to recipes with a touch of natural sweetener to soften the astringent nature of this fruit. Fresh or frozen, they can be used to make smoothies, sauces and jams. They are a lovely addition to oatmeal, baked goods and even salads.
From a nutritional standpoint, whole cranberries contain vitamin C, fiber, phospholipids and omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, as well as an abundance of antioxidants. One antioxidant in particular that has gained significant attention are PACs or proanthocyanidins. This polyphenol is really the star compound in cranberry associated with anti-bacterial activity. Cranberries have been used for centuries for the maintenance of optimal urinary tract health. Not only has research shown that PACs or proanthocyanidins may prevent pathogens from adhering to the uroepithelial tissue of the urethra and bladder, but research has shown that PACs may decrease adhesion of uropathogenic bacteria at the level of the gut, increase their clearance from the body and thereby contribute to the subsequent prevention and reduction of acquiring a urinary tract infection.
Proanthocyanidins in cranberry have been shown to reduce inflammation of the gums, bleeding of the gums and inhibit plaque formation, thereby contributing to optimal oral health. Cranberries also contain numerous other antioxidant polyphenols such as anthocyanins, flavonols and hydroxycinnamic acids, which act as free radical scavengers, thereby reducing the level of oxidative stress in the body, which is associated with accelerated aging.
Not all cranberry products are created equal. Cranberry powders are sometimes blended with other polyphenol rich products such as grape seed extract. There are often vast differences in quality, processing and potency. Many products do not label guaranteed PACs per serving. A minimum of 36mg of PACs is needed to have any beneficial effect on urinary tract health.
Whole Food Cranberry Blend
The Canadian superfood company Organic Traditions has just launched an incredibly unique cranberry product. Organic Traditions® Daily Probiotic Cranberry Supreme is an organic whole food cranberry blend made from a combination of whole cranberry fruit powder, cranberry seed powder and beneficial probiotics. This cranberry formula delivers 139mg of PACs (both soluble and insoluble) per 1 teaspoon serving along with other beneficial flavonoid antioxidants, plant sterols, phospholipids, fiber and naturally occurring omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. 37 pounds of fresh cranberry is used to make 1 pound of concentrated whole fruit powder while 335 pounds of fresh cranberry seed is used to make 1 pound of cranberry seed powder. A proprietary technology and low temperature drying process is used to ensure preservation of delicate antioxidants, including PACs. What is even more incredible is that this blend offers 5 billion beneficial probiotics per 1 tsp. serving for optimal digestive health. This delicious powder can be added to water, juice, smoothies, yogurt, salad dressings and more.
Renita Rietz is a health and nutrition writer and speaker who educates on the phytotherapeutic potential of indigenous foods and plants for prevention and regeneration.