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Time For Cranberries

I am stoked! This is my favorite time of the year – well, at least until spring. The leaves are turning to their kaleidoscope of fall colors, the air is crisp, apples are everywhere, the air smells of woodsmoke, and it’s (finally) cranberry season. So, what is all the fuss about these berries, anyway?
Still growing as bushes, wild cranberries are in Europe, but the cultivated cranberries we eat are found as low trailing vines in sandy bogs. Cranberries also are known as “bounce berries,” since ripe berries bounce, and have earned the name “crane berries” too, since their flowers look a bit like the heads of cranes as the pink blossoms trellis along the bogs.
We get an astonishing array of healing plant nutrients – also known as phytonutrients – from these berries, including many that are free radical scavengers, protecting us on a cellular level, and some have anticancer benefits. Cranberries’ ingredients support a balanced makeup of our oral and gut bacteria, and strengthen the mucosal barriers in our intestinal tract.
One of the first places unwanted microbes enter our bodies is in our mouth and we can suffer from oral inflammation in our gums and other tissues. When we maintain a healthy colony of oral bacteria, we protect ourselves from unwanted bacterial intruders.
The next barrier that protects our health is the digestive system. The phytochemicals in cranberries provide us with support and protection, by supporting the production of the immune-supporting component IgA, and supporting that one layer of mucous membrane that we have on our intestinal wall. Cranberries support the production of one of our most protective supporters of health, the glutathione in our digestive tract.
By supporting the rate of carbohydrate breakdown and carbohydrate absorption, cranberries help blood sugar balance. Studies show that constituents of cranberry support pancreatic health, and the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin.
One of the more well-known ways our health is supported by these berries is how the constituents in cranberries support our urinary tract health. The berries’ polyphenols and a sugar-like molecule called D-mannose are the stars here. These compounds have been shown to support the health of our kidneys, prostate, bladder, and the upper and lower urinary tract in general. We can enhance these benefits by also adding probiotic foods and supplements to the mix.
Lastly, we can support cardiovascular health when we eat cranberries or include unsweetened cranberry juice in our diets.
Keep in mind that most prepared sauces and bottled juices are loaded with sugar, so opt for this simple, low-sugar sauce option, and always choose unsweetened juice. Salud!

Contact Yaakov Levine at [email protected]