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Red, round, healthy: the cranberry actually comes from North America, but has now secured a permanent place in German kitchens. The vitamin-rich berry is eaten fresh, dried or juiced and is said to work wonders, especially for cystitis. It is also used in the form of capsules and tablets. What is the truth behind the claimed healing properties of cranberries, what healthy ingredients does it contain, and how are fresh and dried cranberries different?
What are cranberries?
The cranberry, also known as the gooseberry, rowanberry, or large-fruited cranberry, grows wild in marshy areas, but is now also grown and harvested on farms.
Botanically, the plant belongs to the heather family, it grows close to the ground as a creeper. The small round fruits are bright red to dark red when ripe. Unprocessed fresh cranberries taste sour and slightly bitter.
Cranberries resemble cranberries in many ways. These are also heather plants, the fruits are red and sour in taste. However, cranberries have significantly less pulp and a higher proportion of seeds. Cranberries also grow on bushes.
Cranberry: health effects
Cranberries contain many vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. The following ingredients, which make the berry particularly healthy, deserve special mention:
- Vitamin C: At around 7.5 to 10 milligrams per 100 grams, cranberries are very high in vitamin C. For comparison: oranges provide the same amount of vitamin about 4.5 milligrams, lemons 5 milligrams. Vitamin C supports the immune system, protects cells and plays an important role in the formation of collagen, a component of connective tissue.
- Potassium: 100 grams of fruit contains about 85 milligrams of potassium. The mineral is central to the transmission of signals to nerves and muscles. Potassium is also needed to control fluid balance.
- Proanthocyanidins (PAC): These secondary plant substances are also known as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs). As a natural antioxidant, PAC protects cells and blood vessels. However, there is still insufficient scientific evidence for this effect.
In addition, they contain root berries Vitamins A, K and E for example B vitamins, which contribute to the healthy effects of the fruit.
Calorie content and nutritional value of cranberries
100 grams of fresh cranberries contains approx 45 calories (188 kilojoules) and 0.7 percent fat. They are therefore definitely suitable as a low-calorie and healthy snack.
However, it is worth being careful with dried berries: since they have been removed from the water, the nutrients are in a higher concentration compared to the total weight. Therefore, the same amount of cranberries has significantly more calories than fresh berries. Dried cranberries contain approx 300 calories (1256 kilojoules) per 100 grams fat content is about 1.3 percent. In addition, dried fruits are often sweetened due to the sour taste of the berries. Depending on the sugar content, they can add up to 340 kilocalories (1,424 kilojoules).
Share weight carbohydrates is 12 grams per 100 grams of fresh fruit, dried up to 74 grams Fresh cranberries contain 0.4 grams lightning, Dried fruits 0.8 grams fiber differs only slightly for fresh and dried fruit and is between 4.5 and 6 grams.
Cranberry juice: effect on cystitis
Cranberry juice is considered a real energy drink. Enjoying it is said to strengthen the immune system and have a positive effect on urinary tract infections and especially bladder infections (cystitis). The reason for this effect is that the proanthocyanidins in cranberries prevent bacteria from attaching to the bladder mucosa. This allows bacteria to be removed from the bladder more quickly.
However, research on this topic has so far produced conflicting claims about the effectiveness of cranberries for cystitis. In addition, some studies had methodological flaws. For example, it is not always clear how much proanthocyanidins the test subjects ingested. In addition, some studies were commissioned by cranberry juice manufacturers.
Therefore, there is no scientific evidence for the benefits of fruit juice in the treatment of acute cystitis.
Prevent cystitis with cranberry?
A similar assessment can be found in the Urinary Tract Infections Treatment Guide on the possible preventive effect of cranberry juice. Smaller studies with only a few participants confirmed the positive effect of the drink, but this could not be confirmed in larger studies.
However, many people suffer from recurring bladder infections. Prophylactic use of antibiotics to prevent recurrence of cystitis is not recommended, as this measure can lead to side effects and antibiotic resistance. In this case, moderate consumption of fruit juice drink can be an alternative without side effects. Even if there is no clear scientific evidence of positive effects so far, the juice may be worth a try.
Cranberry: capsules, tablets and powder as a healthy food supplement?
Dietary supplements with cranberries are offered in different variants. You can usually buy them in the form of cranberry tablets, powder or capsules. Formulations with cranberry extract are said to have an anti-inflammatory effect and help in particular with cystitis or generally help maintain a healthy bladder.
The same claims apply to cranberry supplements as to cranberry juice: A positive effect on cystitis has not yet been scientifically proven. If you still want to try whether the berry can relieve the symptoms yourself, it is worth saving money for such preparations and use fresh cranberries or juice instead.
How much cranberry juice can you drink?
There is no recommended maximum amount for the drink. In principle, however, it is not worth exaggerating, because juices contain fructose. For cranberry juice, it averages 4.3 grams per 100 milliliters. So too much of it can be unhealthy.
Since juices contain almost no fiber, they won’t fill you up either. So you tend to drink more sugary juice than you would eat berries. Basically, according to the recommendation of the German Nutrition Association: a portion of fruit per day can be approx 200 milliliters of fruit juice replace.
The exception is people with kidney disease or a high sensitivity to the formation of kidney stones: cranberries and cranberry juices contain large amounts of oxalic acid, which can promote the formation of kidney stones.
When is cranberry season?
The cranberry harvest takes place in North America from September to November. In German supermarkets, you can usually buy only imported cranberries, which are in season from October to January. Dried berries are available all year round. Cranberry products are often found in supermarkets under the English spelling “cranberries”.
Prepare the cranberries
Cranberries can be eaten raw, but the sour taste is not for everyone. Dried fruits contain slightly less bitter substances. In addition, they are often sweetened, which softens the sour aroma of the fruit.
Cranberries can be prepared in many ways, both fresh and dried. Undried fruits are usually pressed into juice, boiled into syrup or processed into jam or compote.
Dried fruit is a popular ingredient in cookies and cakes, but it can also shine as a topping for muesli or salad. They are also often found as a snack between meals, for example in trail mix. Cranberry sauce is especially popular in the US, where it is traditionally served with Thanksgiving turkey. Like juice, cranberry tea also helps against cystitis.
Cranberry Cover Recipe: Healthy Breakfast Cookies
These delicious cranberry cookies are a healthy way to start the day.
- 40 g of dried cranberries
- 2 ripe bananas
- 100 g of hearty oatmeal
- 40 grams of flax seeds
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Mash the bananas in a bowl and then mix all the remaining ingredients together. Then take a tablespoon of the mixture and place it on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. The cookies must then be baked in the oven at 180 degrees on top and bottom heat for about 15-20 minutes.
By Jasmin Rauch, Medical Editor