Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

Insider's Viewpoint: Expert Supermarket Advice: Cranberry Creations. Andrea Samson, Big Y Foods, Inc. Fruits And Veggies More Matters.org

Cranberries are widely popular around this time of year, mainly in the form of cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. And it’s no wonder, considering cranberries are one of only three fruits native to North America. Aptly called a super fruit, cranberries are known for their astonishing array of phytonutrients (plant compounds that are reported to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer health benefits). A 1-cup serving of fresh cranberries contains 4 grams of fiber, 20% of the Daily Value for vitamin C, and 6% of the Daily Value for vitamin K.

Phytonutrients in Cranberries
Phytonutrients found in cranberries include proanthocyanidins and resveratrol. Proanthocyanidins are a group of phytonutrients that may help prevent urinary tract infections and they have anti-inflammatory properties. Widely known as the heart-healthy compound in red wine, resveratrol is also found in cranberries and may help prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce “bad” cholesterol and prevent blood clots. In addition, preliminary studies have shown cranberries may help reduce the risk for cancer as well.

Selection & Storage
With the chilly fall weather upon us, take advantage of the autumn season by making delicious foods with seasonal vegetables and fruits, like cranberries. When selecting ripe cranberries, they should be shiny, plump and range from bright light red to deep red in color. To store, keep in an airtight bag in the refrigerator for up to two months. Washed cranberries can also be stored in the freezer for up to one year in an airtight bag. To retain texture, avoid thawing frozen cranberries before cooking.

Tasty Ways to Eat Cranberries
You can combined cranberries with other fruits in a fruit salad, mixed them with roasted nuts for a healthy snack or add them to hot oatmeal, barley or cold cereal. If you like making your own homemade condiments and sides, then cranberry sauce should be a breeze to prepare. If you’re more adventurous or daring, add cranberries to chicken or salmon dishes as part of a relish or incorporate them into a smoothie like the one below.

Not a fan of the tart taste of fresh cranberries? No problem. According to the Cranberry Institute, all of the following contain the same level of antioxidants:

  • 8 ounces of 25% cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1 ½ cups of fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 ounce of sweetened dried cranberries
  • ½ cup of cranberry sauce

Recipe

Cranberry Smoothie
Serves: 2

    • 1 very ripe banana
    • 1 cup fresh cranberries
    • 1 cup fat-free milk
    • 2 or 3 ice cubes

Place banana, cranberries, milk and ice cubes in a blender; blend until smooth.

Recipe Courtesy of EatingWell Magazine

Andrea Samson, RD, LDN
Corporate Dietitian
Big Y Foods

Thony Tran
Nutrition Intern
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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