Everything You Need To Know About Cranberries

Cranberries are fruits that are much loved for their unique taste and several health perks. According to Healthline, cranberries are basically 90% water. Also, here's a fascinating tidbit of information: Cranberries have links to other fruits, such as blueberries, bilberries, and lingonberries. While you can find several kinds of cranberries in the wild, the most common variant in the U.S. is the North American variety called "vaccinium macrocarpon."

It must be said, cranberries are bound to mean something different to everyone. For some folks, they are a bit too strong on their own, while others enjoy eating them by the handful. Someone on Reddit described their experience with raw cranberries and called them "tart." They even asked others to offer suggestions on how to make the fruit taste better without ruining its health benefits. A Redditor suggested a wholesome cranberry chicken salad, while someone else came up with a popular option: cranberry applesauce.

Beyond those suggestions, however, here's everything you need to know about these potent berries.

Cranberries are great for your health

According to Good Housekeeping, cranberries have an incredible number of health benefits. They are high in vitamin C and also have plenty of antioxidants that can provide a much-needed boost to your immunity. They are also great for your digestive system and can keep your gut health in check, while also fighting stomach ulcers and cancer (via Healthline).

A note of caution: Those who are on medication for heart ailments need to ensure that it's safe for them to consume cranberries because the fruits have plenty of vitamin K, something that is known to affect medication for heart issues, such as blood thinners. Also, those who consume too many cranberries may find themselves developing kidney stones. The key lies in enjoying the fruit in moderation.

That said, cranberries have an impressive nutritional profile. They have loads of vitamins and minerals that can improve your overall health, such as manganese, copper, vitamin E, and more. They are also known to be particularly effective in fighting against urinary tract infections and can help keep them at bay.

Cranberries are low in calories

Cranberries are good to consume when you are hungry because they are a low-calorie snack option. According to Everyday Health, one cup of cranberries contains 46 calories, 12 grams of carbs, and more than 3 grams of dietary fiber. Meanwhile, if you reach out for a cup of cranberry juice — not to be confused with the typical cranberry juice cocktail you are used to — you are looking at approximately 70 calories for eight ounces and 18 grams of carbs. 

Per Healthline, a cup of cranberries has negligible amounts of fat and protein. Also, it has around 4 grams of sugar. Either way, cranberries are not calorie-dense and can be a great addition to your diet. If you are comfortable with the taste, you can definitely eat them raw without worrying about side-effects. Also, as highlighted by Good Housekeeping, dried cranberries are not the same as the regular variety. They are not  great for your health, especially when you compare them to frozen or fresh cranberries. Dried versions also tend to have extra sugar, something that you will most definitely want to pay attention to.

Cranberries are versatile

Cranberries are diverse. You can have a refreshing cup of cranberry juice that's easy to make at home, for example. All you need are fresh cranberries, water, and sugar for a quick treat. The entire process takes less than 10 minutes start to finish. Cranberries are also a good addition to everyday breakfast dishes, such as oatmeal and cereal. You can even use cranberries to make a filling smoothie with a mix of fruits, yogurt, and milk for an easy, nutritious start to your day.

Of course, you can also consider adding cranberries to your baked goods. Cranberry Orange Oatmeal cookies, anyone? Yum!

Another thing to keep in mind: when you are buying your next batch of cranberries at the grocery store, make sure you test them first to see if they are bouncy and ripe.