Also known as cranberry, the cranberry it is famous above all for the useful properties in case of urinary tract infections, so much so that the food supplement market offers numerous products that promise to combat these annoying ailments thanks to the benefits of its berries.
Let's find out what these properties are based on and how to take cranberry or use it in the kitchen.
Description of the cranberry plant
The American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is an evergreen shrub originally from North America belonging to the Ericaceae family.
Its domestication began in the middle of early nineteenth century, and today it is mainly grown in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington state.
On its slender branches they sprout first, in the month of June, fiori pinkish color and then berries and they reach maturity in September, assuming the typical red color.
Properties and benefits of cranberry
The cranberry is known for its anti-inflammatory properties e antioxidants. Among the active ingredients contained within its berries are included phenolic compounds, flavonoids, anthocyanidins and ellagitannins.
Throughout history the fruits and leaves cranberry has been used against bladder, stomach and liver problems and diabetes.
Today the properties of the cranberry are mainly exploited within Dietary Supplements (available in the form of extracts, powders, capsules and tablets) used against urinary tract infections, especially to prevent relapses, often frequent in women.
From this point of view the benefits of cranberry would depend on its ability to prevent the adhesion of bacteria to the lining cells of the urinary tract, and not only: it seems that the cranberry can suppress inflammatory processes associated with bacterial infection.
The anti-inflammatory properties of cranberry also seem useful in other cases, for example in the treatment of gingivitis and in case of rheumatoid arthritis.
Additionally, it appears that cranberry consumption, particularly at the time of high-fat meals, can help keep blood sugar levels under control postprandiale.
When to take cranberry? Its use appears to be generally safe, except for people allergic to this and other Vaccinium species.
Beware, though: the use of cranberry-based supplements is not free from contraindications; high amounts of cranberry can in fact interfere with the activity of warfarin, an anticoagulant drug, and it is always good to consult with your doctor before taking them during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Calories and nutritional values of cranberry
An amount equal to 100 g of cranberry provides only 46 kcal in the form of:
- proteins (0,46 g)
- fat (0,13 g), including 8 mg of saturated fatty acids, 18 mg of monounsaturated fatty acids and 55 mg of polyunsaturated fatty acids
- carbohydrates (11,97 g), including 4,27 g of sugars
Furthermore, in 100 g of cranberry are present:
- 3,6 g of fiber
- 8 mg of calcium
- 0,23 mg of iron
- 6 mg of magnesium
- 11 mg of phosphorus
- 80 mg of potassium
- 2 mg of sodium
- 0,09 mg of zinc
- 14 mg of vitamin C
- 0,012 mg of thiamine
- 0,02 mg in riboflavina
- 0,101 mg di niacina
- 0,057 mg of vitamin B6
- 1 mg of folate
- 3 mg of vitamin A (equivalent retinol activity)
- 1,32 mg of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol)
- 5 g of vitamin K
Use of cranberry in the kitchen
The fruits of the cranberry are used for prepare drinks the consumption of which is generally considered safe.
However, we must not exaggerate: a excessive consumption Cranberry juice can cause stomach discomfort, diarrhea and, if prolonged over time, can increase the risk of kidney stones.
These small red berries can also be used in the kitchen and to prepare sauces for both sweet and savory recipes.
A few examples? The crumble and cranberry pound cake, roast veal with cranberry and walnuts and rice with cranberry and turmeric.
Curiosities about cranberry
The Vaccinium macrocarpon plant is also known as Oxycoccus macrocarpos and Vaccinium oxycoccus.
Currently, cranberry lands around the world correspond to approximately 215 square kilometers, of which approximately 178 in the suns United States, where its cultivation plays a very respectable role in the national economy.
The US Department of Agriculture also holds one collection of historical and wild varieties of this shrub.
The varieties documented are more than 130, but in many cases these are cultivars that are no longer cultivated, some of which have been lost or forgotten.
Since the 30s, the US Department of Agriculture has begun to develop hybrids; today, after almost a century of cross breeding, plants characterized by higher productivity and berries with improved qualities (for example, in antioxidant content) are available.