This week we celebrate cranberries as they come into the peak of their season. The appearance of these tart red cousins of blueberries is a sure sign that the holiday season is just around the corner. Cranberries not only add beautiful color and taste to your table, they are also one of the richest sources of health-promoting antioxidants, which combat free radical activity and protect against damage to both cellular structures and DNA.

I freeze them when they are available, so I can make cranberry sauce all year. I use the dried ones in salads, stuffings and desserts. On Thanksgiving I serve a cranberry casserole as a side dish. It is cranberries, apples and agave, topped with a brown sugar, oatmeal, chopped pecan streusel. How do you make your cranberries? Do you eat them raw? I do!

What’s New and Beneficial About Cranberries:

Long before researchers started investigating from the standpoint of science, cranberry has been used to help prevent and treat urinary tract infections (UTIs). While the acidity of cranberries was at one time an important target of research, we now know that cranberry’s ability to provide UTI benefits is not primarily related to its acidity, but rather to its proanthocyanidin (PAC) content. The PACs in cranberry have a special structure that makes it more difficult for certain types of bacteria to latch on to our urinary tract linings. Include in these types of bacteria are strains of E. coli—one of the most common microorganisms involved in UTIs. By making it more difficult for unwanted bacteria like E. coli to cling onto the urinary tract linings, cranberry’s PACs help prevent the expansion of bacterial populations that can result in outright infection. The discovery that cranberries prevent UTIs by blocking adhesion of bacteria to the urinary tract lining is a discovery that has allowed research on cranberry to expand out in other important directions. Based on this principle of blocking bacterial adhesion to the lining of an organ system you can add up the health-related benefits of cranberry for our mouth and gums (decreased risk of periodontal disease), stomach (decreased risk of stomach ulcer), and colon (decreased risk of colon cancer).

One of our favorite uses of cranberries is to super charge them with our house made Kefir Water. This time of the season we take fresh, whole cranberries to make a juice, then we add the Kefir Water to make a probiotic drink that tastes awesome. Check out our cranberry Kefir Cooler on facebook.