(Family Features) - Do you know anyone who's a Type-A personality? A multi-tasking, go-getter? Well, if fruit could take personality tests, the cranberry would turn out to be Type-A. There's a lot of good stuff in these little red gems. But the antioxidants deserve some special attention.
Often identified in food by their deep-colored pigment - such as the deep red color of cranberries - antioxidants are important components in plants that are showing potential to protect the body from harmful oxidants known as free radicals, which may weaken the immune system, among other things.1
There are different kinds of antioxidants. Cranberries have a wide array of antioxidants, but one kind that is unique to cranberries is proanthocyanidins. This type of flavonoid antioxidant keeps certain bacteria from adhering to the walls of your bladder, helping you maintain a healthy urinary tract.2-3 In fact, research suggests daily consumption of cranberry juice cocktail can help maintain urinary tract health.4
Here's where cranberries really start flexing their multitasking muscles. In addition to proanthocyanidins, they also contain another type of flavonoid antioxidant - anthocyanins.5 While more research is needed on the effects of antioxidants on health, preliminary studies suggest flavonoid antioxidants may work by helping to maintain healthy cells, tissues and arteries, which means helping you maintain a healthy heart.
Fruits and vegetables, which supply fiber and essential vitamins and minerals, are important for good health and in reducing the risk to certain chronic diseases, including heart disease. So, when trying to meet the daily recommendations for fruit intake, don't forget about the cranberry. The cranberry's one-two punch of anti-adhesion and antioxidants means that doing good things for your health can be easy and delicious.
You can include cranberries throughout the day whether you enjoy fresh cranberries, dried cranberries, cranberry juice, or cranberry sauce. Try these simple tips:
- Start your day with a cup of 100 percent cranberry juice blend. According the latest Agricultural Research Service Report from the USDA, one cup of 100 percent cranberry juice blend has more naturally occurring antioxidants than one cup of orange juice or apple juice.6
- Toss dried cranberries on your salad, or mix them in tuna salad for a sweet and tangy twist on a lunchtime sandwich.
- Create a satisfying afternoon snack by combining dried cranberries and your favorite nuts and seeds.
- Add cranberries to whole grain rice pilaf - you get added color and flavor!
For more information on cranberries, visit www.uscranberries.com.
1 Urquiaga I, Leighton F. Plant Polyphenol Antioxidants and Oxidative Stress. Presented at the conference, "Biology and Pathology of Free Radicals: Plant and Wine Polyphenol Antioxidants" held July 29-30, 1999, at the Catholic University, Santiago, Chile, (PUC-PBMEC99).
2 Avorn J., Monane M., Gurwitz JH., Glynn RJ, Choodnovskiy L., Lipsitz LA. Reduction of bacteriuria and pyuria after ingestion of cranberry juice. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1994: 271:751-754.
3 Howell AB, Reed JD, Krueger CG, Winterbottom R, Cunningham DG, Leahy M. A-Type cranberry proanthocyanidins and uropathogenic bacterial anti-adhesion activity. Photochemistry 2005: 66:2281-2291.
4 Jepson R, Craig J. Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Jan 23;(1):CD001321.
5 USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods, Release 2.1 (2007) http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/Flav/Flav02-1.pdf
6 USDA Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods - 2007. www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=15866.