Nutrition Corner: Cranberries at Thanksgiving

November 10th, 2015 12:00 pm

Red, a little tart, crunchy or sweet, cranberries are a Thanksgiving staple. Even if you don’t like cranberries, chances are, they will be on the dinner table.

Cranberries were thought to be originally named crane berries because the flowers and vines look a bit like the head of a crane. They were used by early settlers to preserve foods as well as a dye.

Cranberry juice has been highlighted as a method of preventing urinary tract infections. Preliminary evidence does support use in prevention, however, they are not a substitute for treatment with antibiotics. Here is how cranberries do prevent UTIs, according to the preliminary research.

The acid berries are high in vitamin C – a cup of raw cranberries provides about a fifth of the daily Vitamin C requirement for adults. One cup of cranberries also provides over 5 grams of fiber, or 20 percent of the daily needs of an adult. Adding more to their value, cranberries also contain vitamin A and potassium.

The National Institute of Health states “research shows that components found in cranberries may reduce the ability of H. pylori bacteria to live in the stomach and cause ulcers.”

The NIH also reports findings from a few studies which suggest cranberries may have antioxidant properties and may also be able to reduce dental plaque.

There is more research to come as NIH is funding an additional study to identify possible anti-aging effects of cranberries.

A few cautions about cranberries — if you think you have a urinary tract infection, see a health care provider and, if you take blood-thinning drugs, aspirin or medications that affect the liver, consume cranberries with caution.

Here is a native American dish, Wojapi. In comparison, commercially-canned cranberry sauce contains 22 grams of carbohydrate per slice (8 slices to a can).

Cranberry Wojapi

1 cup dried cranberries

2 cups water

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch (mixed with 3/4 cup water)

In a large saucepan, combine ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture is thickened and cranberries are plumed.

Makes 6 servings. Each serving contains 130 calories, 33 grams Carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 0 sodium and fat.

Mary R. Ehret Nutrition Corner R. Ehret Nutrition Corner

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at