Hello and welcome to today’s edition of Cooking with Fey! In anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday next week I thought we could talk about an iconic fall treat, cranberries!
Cran-tastic cranberries have health benefits to add to your diet such as: helping heal UTIs, protecting our heart and warding off dental concerns. These health benefits are wonderful for those of us with Atrial Fibrillation, as we can use all the help we can get to help our hearts function better and safer.
Cranberries are also an excellent source of:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin E
- Antioxidant Polyphoenols like Proanthocyandin
As you may know, cranberries are a fantastic source of Vitamin C, which is an important nutrient linked to immune system health. Having a strong immune system helps the body ward off illness or recover faster from sickness.
Vitamin C is also great for the heart. In a research study published by the Harvard School of Public Health, the diets of 126,399 adults were examined over the course of many years to reveal that for every serving of fruits and vegetables a person consumed, there was a 4% reduction in their risk of developing coronary heart disease. The study also pointed out that leafy green vegetables and foods high in Vitamin C, like cranberries, had the largest positive impact.
Vitamin K is important to the body because it is needed for the body to product a protein called prothrombin, which allows the body to support bone metabolism and form helpful blood clots (like when you get a papercut and the blood clots to stop the bleeding, not the scary kind of blood clot). Vitamin K creates healthy, strong bones by increasing their density. Denser bones are less likely to break or sustain injury.
Think of manganese as a superhero for our bones. This mineral helps bones grow and then maintain their density. Manganese, when combined with calcium, zinc and copper, supports bone mineral density in any age of human development. However, this is very important in our active ageing populations. As you may have heard, when we age our bones begin to lose their density. This can cause bones to become weak and break easily, so manganese is important to make sure we are ingesting enough of as we get older.
Copper is a very vital mineral that every part of the body needs in order to function. Why, you might ask? Because copper helps our bodies make red blood cells, keep our nerve cells healthy and support our immune system. Copper also helps our body form collagen, absorb iron from the food we eat and assists in energy production. That sounds like a super important mineral to me!
Additionally, cranberries contain a fantastic source of antioxidants to fight off free radicals in the body. As you may remember from a previous blog on strawberries, antioxidants have been shown in studies to delay cognitive issues like memory less, fight some cancers and decrease your chances of developing heart disease or diabetes. These same antioxidants also keep our skin looking young and beautiful. Science is starting to show that consuming antioxidants can help slow the onset of wrinkles, age spots or decreased elasticity in our skin.
Proanthocyandin is a type of polyphenol found in cranberries. And here’s a quick rundown on polyphenols. Polyphenols are a type of micronutrient humans can ingest by eating specific plant-based foods. These micronutrients are packed with antioxidants and health benefits. So, jumping back to proantocyandin, researchers at the Center for Oral Biology and Eastman Department of Dentistry from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that this polyphenol from cranberries was able to prevent oral bacteria from sticking to our teeth. Which is great news for dentists, as the less bacteria that attaches to our teeth the healthier they are and the less chances there are of our teeth developing dental problems down the road. Think of proanthocyandian as Teflon for our teeth. The polyphenol creates a barrier bacteria can’t stick to and cause harm to our teeth!
Proanthocyandin is also somewhat of a superhero in the circles of UTI patients. UTI stands for Urinary Tract Infection, and if you’ve ever had one of these awful infections then you know how much of a lifesaver cranberries can be. In the same way proanthocyandin prevents bacteria from sticking to our teeth, this same polyphenol prevents the UTI bacteria from attaching themselves to the urinary tract walls, which can prevent the spread of the infection and decrease the time you have one. This treatment has actually been around for hundreds of years, as Native Americans used cranberries as a treatment for bladder and kidney diseases.