By TammyWhite
1 years ago

All about cranberry

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Description

Unlike many of the foods that we profile on our website, cranberries are native to North America and have never become widely naturalized to other parts of the world. In fact, over 80% of all cranberries grown worldwide are grown in the U.S. and Canada. (And roughly twice as many cranberries are grown in the U.S. compared to Canada.) For U.S. consumers, cranberries are an indigenous food that has unique ties to this region of the world.

Among our WHFoods, cranberries are most closely related to blueberries. Both of these berries belong to the Ericaceae family of plants, as well as to the Vaccinium genus. When you compare the phytonutrient richness of these two berries, you will also find a good bit of overlap. But we think it is safe to say that cranberries are unique in many ways, and one of these ways involves the manner in which they grow.

Because of pictures taken during harvest season, some people may think that cranberries are grown in water (versus soil). But this description is not correct. Cranberries are grown on very low-lying vines that thrive on a special combination of peat-based sandy soil and wet conditions. The habitat in which cranberries grow is usually referred to as a "bog" or "marsh." Grassy marshes, forested swamps, peat bogs, and other types of wetland habitats are natural growing places for cranberries. Some cranberry bogs were formed naturally over very long periods of time; others have many man-made elements. When cranberries are produced commercially, the cranberry bogs usually account for a small percent of the acreage needed to grow the cranberries. Surrounding the bogs are watersheds and reservoirs needed to sustain productivity in the bogs. In addition, piping systems are set up to assist with commercial production.

Cranberries generally take about 16 months to fully mature. They are typically planted in late spring, summer, or early fall of year 1, winter over in dormant form, and then resume growth during the spring of year 2. They typically reach maturity in the fall of this second year. Commercial cranberry growers usually flood their bogs twice over the course of their growth cycle. A first flooding occurs at the start of winter. This flooding is used to protect the dormant cranberry vines during the winter months. Once winter has ended, the cranberry bogs are drained and the cranberries continue to grow until early fall. When harvest time arrives, the bogs are flooded for a second time since it is easier to harvest the cranberries once they have floated up to the top of the water. If you see pictures of cranberries bogs during times of flooding, it is easy to assume that they are growing in the water!

We often get asked about the benefits of white versus red cranberries. White cranberries are simply red cranberries that were harvested on the early side, before forming the anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins that give them their vibrant red color. "Early" in this case may involve a very short period of time, usually involving only 2–4 weeks. Given the documented health benefits of phytonutrients like anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, you might wonder how white cranberries could still make a good food choice. The answer to this question lies in the difference in taste between white and red cranberries. The earlier-harvested white version is milder in overall taste and less tart than the red version that has been harvested at full maturity. If this taste difference holds the key to inclusion of cranberries in your meal plan, it makes sense to enjoy the earlier-harvested white version. In our approach at WHFoods, we are more likely to take advantage of the health benefits provided by anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins and use fruits, fruit juices, honey, and other ingredients to provide a delicious taste blend that includes red cranberries.

The color of red cranberries can vary from bright red to pale red to scarlet to deep crimson to purple. White cranberries are not typically sheer white in color but more greenish white or yellowish white. They can also be soft yellow or even more distinctly yellow in tone. If they have been harvested at a time when their anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins have started to form, they can also take on an overall yellow tone with different-sized areas of red blush.

The cranberries we purchase in the supermarket all belong to the same genus and species of plant, that of Vaccinium macrocarpon. (You might also see the designation, Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton, where "Aiton" refers to the name of the taxonomy authority involved with this naming.) On a non-commercial basis, however, you can find several additional species of cranberries, including Vaccinium oxycoccos, which is sometimes referred to as "small cranberry" due to its smaller leaves and berries.

Cranberries are not always on most people's list when it comes to antioxidant-rich, health-supportive berries. When thinking about antioxidant support, berries like blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries are more likely to come to mind. But as soon as you start to think about the shape and size of cranberries, it is not difficult to recognize their similarities with berries like blueberries, and to understand why these berries are so renowned for their antioxidant richness. Recent studies have identified over two dozen antioxidant phytonutrients in cranberries. In addition, these studies have shown the ability of cranberry phytonutrients to raise the overall antioxidant capacity in our bloodstream and to help reduce risk of oxidative stress. For these reasons and others, cranberries deserve full recognition as a health-supportive fruit that can bring health benefits to a meal plan.Approximately one-third of all U.S. adults are estimated to experience a set of interrelated conditions known as Metabolic Syndrome (MetS). MetS is not considered a chronic disease but rather a key risk factor for many chronic diseases—especially type 2 diabetes and diseases involving the cardiovascular system. Recent research has provided us with some encouraging findings about the potential benefits of cranberry intake for improvement of MetS. Participants in several studies experienced improvement in many parameters of MetS, including lower fasting blood sugar levels, lower levels of blood triglycerides, and better antioxidant capacity in their blood. In addition, cranberry intake helped increase body levels of adiponectin, a fat cell hormone associated with lower levels of blood sugar and blood triglycerides, decreased insulin secretion, decreased insulin resistance, and decreased accumulation of body fat. The form of cranberries used in these studies was usually cranberry juice, in an amount of approximately 2 cups divided up into two servings with 1 cup earlier in the day and 1 cup later on. These daily servings were typically consumed over a period of 8–12 weeks.Whenever cranberries are mentioned, one of the health conditions that often comes to mind is urinary tract infection (UTI). Research on cranberries and UTI has been somewhat confusing, due to a reasonably large number of studies and ongoing mixed results. We view these research results as showing improvement of UTI with cranberry intake in various circumstances but in a way that is not yet fully predictable. For example, in many less complicated occurrences of UTI, E. coli bacteria are the source of the infection, and these bacteria are less able to adhere to cell linings in the urinary tract due to presence of proanthocyanins from cranberry. However, this benefit only applies to UTI when primarily caused by E. coli bacteria. Under many circumstances, cranberry phytonutrients—including triterpenoids like ursolic acid—are able to decrease activity in inflammatory pathways. These anti-inflammatory benefits have been demonstrated in some studies of UTI, but not in others. In addition to these limitations, most cranberry-UTI studies have used capsules of cranberry powder, cranberry extract, or cranberry juice rather than whole cranberries. At WHFoods, our goal is not to evaluate foods in a medical context but to promote healthy eating and the life-changing benefits of great nourishment. In this context, we look upon the cranberry-UTI research as affirming the phytonutrient richness of cranberries and their related anti-inflammatory properties. But we believe that more studies are needed to understand the exact role of cranberry intake and UTI.While perhaps not an issue in many kitchens, we wanted to let you know about recent research on the storage of cranberries. In many U.S. meal plans, cranberries fall into a category of foods that might be called "special occasion foods." In fact, 20% of all cranberries consumed in the U.S. are consumed on the Thanksgiving holiday alone! When fresh foods are consumed on a "special occasion" basis, it can be quite natural to freeze them as a way of avoiding waste. A recent study has shown anthocyanins in cranberries to be temperature sensitive during storage and to undergo degradation (mostly like due to enzyme activity) as temperatures increase above freezing. However, at freezing temperatures (32°F/0°C), loss of anthocyanins appears to be prevented almost entirely for an extended period of time. Based on these study results and other findings that we have reviewed, we feel comfortable in recommending freezer storage of cranberries (as needed) over a period of 6–12 months.

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Violeta Beautiful
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soncee Good artikle
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gingenetwork Very informative post thank you I didn't know that they were flooded to harvest! See you learn something new everyday
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LiaF7 Something new to me
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MegyBella Fantastic
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Shavkat Nice article
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Miki beatiful:)
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