Are Dried Cranberries Good For You?

Feb. 22, 2023

Perfect as a snack or main course, cranberries are a low-key nutritional powerhouse. With only 50 calories and 4 grams of sugar per cup, these berries are low in calories and sugar, especially when compared to other fruits.


There are many other health benefits to eating cranberries that will make you want to eat them on more than just Thanksgiving Day.


What are the health benefits of cranberries?

One cup contains about 4 grams of fiber, a high level of antioxidants (including vitamins A and E), and is a good source of vitamin C, an important antioxidant that protects cells from damage and promotes collagen production, which helps with wound healing and skin integrity.


A cup of this festive fruit contains only 4 grams of natural sugar per full cup of fruit. Thanks to their red and purple pigments, cranberries contain polyphenols, an antioxidant associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease. What's more, the metabolites of cranberry polyphenols themselves have a unique set of functions: in addition to helping to protect the body's cells from damage (and thus reducing the risk of oxidative stress, which can lead to chronic inflammation over time), some studies have incorporated the specific effects of certain cranberry polyphenols on reducing the risk of stomach cancer and bacterial infections.





Cranberries also contain nearly 20% of your daily requirement of vitamin C and contain a variety of antioxidants in the form of polyphenolic compounds (abundant in most vegetables and fruits, especially dark red and purple ones) which, when metabolized, form new bioactive compounds that may contribute to gastrointestinal health and overall immunity. As a fruit, cranberries also provide prebiotic fibre to fuel the prebiotics in your body, which are beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract (and other tissue linings) called the microbiome, the layer that is the first line of defence for the immune system.


 Cranberry Extract

 Cranberry Extract

In addition, due to its antioxidant content, cranberries may help to reduce the risk of chronic disease by reducing oxidative stress through chronic inflammation. While all antioxidant-rich foods help to improve blood flow through the blood vessels (and therefore lower blood pressure over time), protect cells from harmful damage (reducing the risk of inflammation or tumour growth) and reduce the risk of cholesterol build-up in the arteries, they are an excellent choice as part of an overall healthy diet. That said, because they are rich in vitamin K, a nutrient that helps regulate blood clotting, be sure to consult your doctor before sprinting to the cranberry harvest, as high levels of vitamin K can interfere with the heart health of medications you may be taking.


Are dried cranberries good for you?

No - for almost any fruit or vegetable, fresh or frozen is usually best. This is because the drying process concentrates the sugar contained in the fruit or vegetable itself, increasing the overall sugar content while reducing the water and fibre content. Cranberries contain more sugar than most, thanks to their natural tang - as they usually taste sour, they are hardly ever dried without added sugar, although you can find brands made with sugar substitutes. A standard serving (1/4 cup) contains about 20 grams per serving (for reference, the American Heart Association recommends that women limit their additional sugar intake to 24 grams per day.) The processing of cranberries also reduces the antioxidant content as well as the fibre content of the fruit, so you are better off not using them for flavouring rather than for any perceived health benefits.


Is it safe to eat raw cranberries?

It is best to buy fresh, raw cranberries in season (September and October). They can be refrigerated or frozen for later use. The skins contain many beneficial properties, so the best option is to add them all to cereals or oats, blend them into smoothies, or use them in cooking and baking when you want a tart flavour.

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