With both American Heart Month and Valentine’s Day in the month of February, it’s the perfect time to show some love to a vibrant, rosy-hued fruit that helps keep your ticker in tip-top shape—cranberries!
Rediscover the Cranberry
With their tart, tangy taste, cranberries are commonly enjoyed in juices, side dishes, baked goods, sauces and as a dried fruit snack. While adored for their distinctive flavor, the versatile cranberry is one of the few commercially-cultivated fruits native to North America and boasts many health benefits.
Cranberries are known as America’s Original Superfruit. They provide vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients without providing an excess of calories. In fact, one cup of raw cranberries totals just 50 calories! They are also naturally fat-free and contain very little sodium. In other words, they fit perfectly into a heart-healthy diet.
Cranberries are proof that big health benefits come in a little package. In their whole form, cranberries supply a good source of fiber, plus plant nutrients called flavonoids and polyphenols not commonly found in other fruits. These plant nutrients are especially beneficial for heart health because they may slow the progression of artery plaque build-up, which can lead to heart attacks and stroke.
Cranberries may also play a role in lowering blood pressure and taming inflammation. The inflammation process is the immune system’s natural way to protect against injury and harmful environmental factors. When uncontrolled, it can cause organ and tissue damage that may trigger heart disease and stroke, as well as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and cancer.
Cranberries in the Kitchen
Cranberries are easy and convenient to use in any form all year-round and they shine when paired with both sweet and savory ingredients.
Try these tasty ways to add a touch of crimson to everyday recipes and meals using all five forms of cranberries:
Fresh: Blend them into smoothies, use them to make homemade cranberry sauce, or showcase in your favorite stuffing recipe.
Frozen: Add them to smoothies, sauces, relish, and chutney or mix into
Juice Cocktail (27%): Combine with extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar and seasonings to create a tangy homemade vinaigrette salad dressing, like this Cranberry Spinach Salad with Avocados. Or add a splash of it to sparkling water or punch for a fun and festive drink.
Sauce: Spread it on turkey sandwiches, pancakes or quesadillas stir it into creamy chicken salad or make your own Cranberry BBQ Sauce.
Dried: Toss with whole-grain cereal and unsalted nuts to make an easy do-it-yourself trail mix. Sprinkle them into Cranberry Chicken Salad on Flatbread, or use them to top oatmeal or in whole-grain salads like this Cranberry & Cilantro Quinoa Salad.
For more easy-to-follow recipes and cranberry facts, visit USCranberries.com.
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