In The All-Natural Cardio Cure (Avery Books, 2004), Dr. Allan Magaziner puts in a plug for the cranberry, unsung heroes of the berry gang.
Cranberries are loaded with disease-fighting polyphenols and can increase your body’s levels of HDL “good” cholesterol and your blood’s antioxidant capacity which helps reduce risk of heart disease. The best way to take them is in pure (but oh-so-sour) juice, fresh or dried.
Here are some more reasons we are crazy about cranberries:
- Inflammation. Cranberries have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect, which can potentially benefit conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, stomach and digestive disorders, and our cardiovascular system, particularly the lining of our vessel walls.
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). Cranberries have been used for years to prevent UTIs. It appears that their high levels of antioxidants called proanthocyanidins help reduce the adhesion of certain bacteria to urinary tract walls, which in turn can help to reduce the incidence of UTIs.
- Ulcers. Certain types of stomach ulcers are related to a particular type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, and it’s possible that cranberries may help prevent this bacteria from attaching to the lining of the stomach, similar to how they can help prevent bacteria from attaching to the lining of the urinary tract.
- Dental health. The same phytonutrients in cranberries that help prevent UTIs may also benefit our dental health, by preventing bacteria from sticking to our teeth. An added bonus: The anti-inflammatory effects of these phytonutrients can also help to reduce inflammation in and around our gums, which helps to reduce our risk of periodontal disease.
- Cardiovascular Disease. Cranberry’s benefit on cardiovascular health is likely due to a combination of factors, including cranberry’s antioxidant effects, anti-inflammatory effects, and potential improvement of HDL and LDL cholesterol. The polyphenols may help prevent the build-up of plaque on vessel walls, and the antioxidant components of cranberries are also linked to a reduction in blood pressure.
- Protect against cancer. Researchers continue to identify more and more ways that cranberries are beneficial in slowing tumor growth, and have shown positive effects against certain types of cancer, including prostate, lung, breast, and colon cancer.
Let’s move over to the spa & beauty side of things shall we?
The June Jacobs Spa Collection (junejacobs.com) offers Cranberry Bath Salts, Cranberry Body Balm and skin-softening Cranberry Pomegranate Moisture Masque. They won’t help your cholesterol, but they smell divine.
Or whip up some Cranberry Lip Gloss:
10 fresh cranberries
1 teaspoon manuka honey
1 tablespoon sweet almond oil
1 drop vitamin E oil
Mix all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for two minutes or until the mixture just begins to boil. (The bowl may also be heated in a pan of water on a stovetop.) Stir well and gently crush the berries. Let mixture cool for five minutes, then strain through a fine sieve to remove all the fruit pieces. Stir again and set aside to cool completely. When cool, transfer into a small portable plastic container or tin. Apply and enjoy!