Nearly everything has to be labeled with a superlative to catch the attention of American consumers, hence the term “super food.” Super foods are those with high nutrient values and sometimes magically attributed medicinal powers. In the case of the cranberry, a fruit grown on bushes in bogs, the description is an apt one.
Nutritional Value of Cranberries
One cup of chopped raw cranberries provides 51 calories, the bulk of which are from carbohydrates, according to information from Nutrition Data. Along with these calories come nutrients: 5 g of dietary fiber, representing 20 percent RDA based on 2,000 calorie diet; 14.6 mg vitamin C, representing 24 percent RDA based on 2,000 calorie diet; 04 mg manganese, representing 20 percent RDA on 2,000 calorie diet; and 7 percent each RDA on 2,000 calorie diet of vitamins E and K.
The cranberry is a cholesterol-free food source. The cranberry also contain a variety of phytonutrients whose antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties are the subject of much scientific research, relates WHFoods.
WHFoods advises that to receive the most nutritional value from cranberries, you should eat them raw or at least whole. The phytonutrients pack their most powerful punch when working together. Prepared cranberry products such as cranberry juice and cranberry sauce (without the whole fruit) strain away some of the nutritive value through the loss of the fruit’s skin and other properties during processing.
Medicinal Value of Cranberries
Not everything you hear or read about the health value of cranberries are proven facts. Manufacturers and advertisers jump on any bandwagon that rolls by. Dietary supplements are not scrutinized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as are prescription drugs. Some claims come about as the result of a single study, sometimes one only performed on animals. Scientific data is not conclusive until it certain criteria are met, including replication of results.
That being said, the University of Maryland Medical Center, UMMC, reports reputable scientific studies have validated the use of cranberry juice and supplements for the prevention of urinary tract infections, although not in the treatment of same.
Scientists are also researching other possible uses of cranberry for the treatment or prevention of numerous conditions, but more research will need to be done before traditional medicine embraces these uses. Under consideration is the use of cranberry in the prevention of stomach ulcers, the prevention of heart disease and cancer treatment.
The UMMC cautions that anyone who has or has had kidney stones consult their health care provider before taking cranberry supplements or drinking large amounts of cranberry juice due to the high oxalate levels in the fruit.
An additional precaution listed by UMMC is the possible interaction of cranberries with the medication warfarin, a blood-thinning medication. The study, The Warfarin-Cranberry Juice Interaction Revisited: A Systematic In Vitro-In Vivo Evaluation,” authored by N.Ngo et al was published in the July 2010 edition of the “Journal of Experimental Pharmacology.” The conclusion reached by this small study indicated that although there was an incidence of cranberry interacting with warfarin in the test tube, these results were not found in human test subjects. Consult your health care provider before taking cranberry supplements or drinking large amounts of cranberry juice if you are on warfarin therapy.
Sources: NutritionData: Cranberries, Raw
University of Maryland Medical Center: Cranberry
PubMed.gov: “Journal of Experimental Pharmacology,” The Warfarin-Cranberry Juice Interaction Revisited: A Systematic In Vitro-In Vivo Evaluation, N. Ngo et al, July 2010