On a road trip with family or while trekking with friends, a packet of trail mix, that typically comprises crunchy kernels of peanuts, almonds, cashews, as well as roasted pods of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, is the perfect snack. But while biting into the healthy mélange, you also come across soft, subtly sweet dry fruits, predominantly grapes and cranberries, albeit in their desiccated form, as raisins and dried cranberries.
Of course, you are familiar with raisins (dried grapes), also called kishmish and a rather popular ingredient in Indian cuisine, for garnishing sweets, rice dishes and being eaten as such, for their numerous health benefits. But did you know that cranberries, besides infusing refreshing flavours to jams, desserts and cocktails as fresh, ripe fruits, are also an equally nutritious bounty as raisins, in their parched avatar too? Yes indeed, dried cranberries are bestowed with vitamins, minerals, fibers, as well as anthocyanin antioxidants, thereby enhancing , augmenting heart wellness and remarkably preventing the risk of cancer. Read on, to gain in-depth insight into the nutritional values, health benefits, side effects, as well as luscious, nourishing recipes, with dried cranberries.
The Cranberry Shrub:
Cranberries, bearing the scientific name Vaccinium oxycoccos, are low, creeping shrubs that grow up to 2 meters in height. They bear thin, slender stems with tiny green leaves. The flowers are dark pink in colour, and upon developing, bear the fruits. The fruit, belonging to the berry group, is green when raw and turns vivid red once ripened, with a distinct tart taste and a hint of sweetness.
Dried Cranberries Nutrition Facts:
Dried cranberries are super-rich in Vitamin C. It is also low in calories to help maintain body weight and supplies adequate essential dietary fibers and proteins. Furthermore, dried cranberries also offer the key spectrum of B vitamins to regulate metabolism and cellular energy requirements.
The following is the nutritional value of dried cranberries, per 100 g, in most organic, unsweetened packs of dried cranberries is as follows:
Energy 38 kcal
Carbohydrates 9.62 g
Dietary fiber 1 g
Fat 0.04 g
Protein 0.76 g
Thiamine (B1) 3%
Riboflavin (B2) 2%
Niacin (B3) 1%
Vitamin B6 3%
Vitamin C 73%
The dry fruits also comprises ample potassium which is sufficient for the daily requirement of adults, besides beneficial anthocyanin and flavonoid antioxidants. Other vital trace minerals in this citrus fruits include phosphorus, copper, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.
Dried Cranberries Health Benefits:
Boosts Immune System
Consuming a few dried cranberries will provide ample vitamin C for the daily diet. Vitamin C not only functions in enhancing iron absorption for enhanced blood circulation, but also works to improve immunity by white blood cells in the system. In addition, vitamin C is obligatory for growth and development of all body tissues and a key antioxidant for removing toxins from the system.
Maintains Heart Health
Being intrinsically high in potassium levels, this dry fruit assists in the maintenance of normal blood pressure. It also functions in promoting cardiac muscle activity, lowers the amounts of bad LDL cholesterol and raises levels of good HDL cholesterol. Dried cranberry is very advantageous in preventing instances of heart attacks and stroke and thereby contributes to a longer and healthier lifespan.
Relaxes Muscle Cramps
Dried cranberry is bestowed with the key mineral for optimal muscle function – magnesium. The significantly high magnesium content in these dry fruits makes it an ideal option to provide relief from muscle sores and cramps. Moreover, post a high intensity workout, when muscles in the arms and legs are strained, eating a fistful of dried cranberries instantly alleviate symptoms of pain and discomfort.
Dried cranberry comprises valuable dietary fibers which ensure proper bowel movement upon ingestion of heavy meals. This is crucial to regulate kidney function and filter out all the toxic waste products upon digestion of food and assimilation of required nutrients. It also efficiently relieves intestinal conditions like constipation and indigestion.
The calcium present in the dry cranberry fruit is absorbed by bones in the body, thereby helping to maintain optimal bone density for day-to-day functions and flexible, unobstructed movement. The very high potassium content in dried cranberries complements bone health by enhancing mineral uptake by cells and tissues in the body.
Combats Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Dried cranberries offers profuse amounts of vitamin C that confers anti-inflammatory properties to reduce swelling in the bladder, which is more common in women than men. Also, its antioxidant capabilities are useful in removing detrimental free radicals and harmful bacteria from the body. This in turn helps to avoid oxidation of the healthy cells in the excretory system organs, thus ensuring proper elimination of wastes and unnecessary food residues from the body and preventing their accumulation in the system.
Helps Cure Anemia
Vitamin C also performs one very vital function in the human body which is of enhancing the absorption of iron from ingested food. Deficiency in iron quantities leads to a condition known as anemia wherein there is a lack of adequate red blood cells in the body to transport nutrients and oxygen to all cells and tissues. Eating these dry fruits will guarantee ample uptake of iron, from foods, into the system and promote red blood cell synthesis and blood passage.
Dried Cranberries Uses For Skin And Hair:
Reduces Skin Inflammation
Dried cranberry contains several essential amino acids that help to build healthy skin cells and also suppress any redness and swelling that tends to develop on skin exposed to harsh environmental states. Its high flavonoid content provides antioxidants traits to assist in combating free radical damage, diminish acne, scars and dark spots and lessen skin irritation.
Offers Anti-Aging Benefits
Dried cranberries contains spermidine that aids in delaying skin cells from the process of aging. The carotene class of flavonoid plant antioxidants further plays an important role in reducing the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and sunken skin. Eating the dry fruit or drinking the juice will also help to boost the production of collagen, a protein essential for maintaining the elasticity and firmness of skin texture.
Dried Cranberry Juice Recipe
½ cup dried cranberries
3 tsp of honey
In a bowl, wash all the dried cranberries with clean water.
Thoroughly blend in a juicer to extract the liquid content.
Mix the honey and crushed ice, with a little bit of water to obtain a homogenous fusion.
Relish the mildly sweetened dried cranberry juice chilled.
How It Works:
Dried cranberry contains the rutin category of plant phenol antioxidants which have anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties. This helps to get rid of acne, scars and dark spots on skin, giving the face a vibrant, youthful and soft appearance. It also boosts collagen synthesis in healthy skin cells and helps in slowing down aging.
Supports Hair Growth
Dried cranberries juice not only benefits skin but also promotes hair growth and thickness. The vitamin C and antioxidant content inherent in this dry fruit and juice help to strengthen the roots of hair known as follicles, to stimulate the proliferation of long and robust locks of hair. It assures the complete removal of harmful free radicals that cause weak and brittle hair and incessant hair loss, thereby guaranteeing the renewal of healthy hair growth.
Eradicates Dandruff Woes
Applying the juice extract of dried cranberries onto an aggravated scalp assists in ridding the surface of dandruff and constant itching. The anti-fungal properties of this dry fruit offer the advantage of removing all irritants from the scalp and hence promotes nourished hair growth. The key trace minerals zinc and iron, as well as vitamin B1 and vitamin C also complement optimal development of hair roots and bestow long, strong and lustrous tresses.
Medicinal And Therapeutic Uses Of Dried Cranberries:
Dried cranberries are blessed with myriad phytonutrients like anthocyanin, flavonoid, tannin, carotenoid antioxidants. The gel extracts from the dry fruits are an effectual remedy for mitigating cough and cold. Also, it has the quality to fight infectious agents such as bacteria and fungi. The fruit and its tough outer covering called the rind contain intrinsic nerve stimulating properties, to assist in the remedy of epilepsy and headaches. It is also a beneficial agent to manage diarrhea, nausea and asthma.
Remedies Gum Damage
Lack of proper nutrition from food could lead to bleeding of gums and loose tissue. This is primarily caused due to a deficiency in Vitamin C. In addition, the epidermal layers lining the gums must also be cared for and collagen depletion can cause damage to gums and teeth. Eating a few dried cranberries keeps dental problems at bay.
Regulates Blood Cholesterol Levels
Dried cranberry juice extracts present in the fruit holds high value in clearing unwanted deposits in the arteries due to abundant pectin content. It also plays a central role in monitoring the levels of bad LDL and good HDL cholesterol, thereby maintaining an optimal blood cholesterol level. Potassium control electrolyte balance in bloodstream which balances blood pressure levels. Thus, dried cranberry juice extract helps people with hypertension and augments heart health.
Prevents Cold And Flu
Ingestion of dried cranberries in tea or juice enriches the blood circulation with potent antioxidants, which perform the vital task of preventing toxin build-up in the system. Accumulation of harmful substances triggers ailments such as cold, allergies, asthma etc. where the immune system fails to operate normally. These dry fruits also supplies ample vitamin C to boost the body’ s innate defense mechanism and circumvents the occurrence of cold and flu.
Effectually Combats Cancer
Dried cranberry is a treasure trove of powerful nutrients, particularly bioflavonoids, a class of plant-based antioxidants. These significantly lessen the symptoms of pancreatic and intestinal cancers. Furthermore, they also possesses the ability to remove excess estrogen – a female reproductive hormone involved in breast development and thus prevents breast cancer. The inherent dietary fibers infused in dried cranberries ward off colon cancer and enhance gut health.
Aids In Weight Loss
Dried cranberries is bestowed with immense quantities of natural fibers. These take a while to get completely digested and thereby regulate appetite. They also need to be ground harder by teeth to be converted into simpler forms for easier processing. This in turn keeps untimely cravings for junk food at bay. It also regulates lipid metabolism in cells and tissues and reduces starch and sugar amounts in the body.
Osteoporosis is a particularly incapacitating ailment which negatively influences posture, muscle and bone function and flexibility. It also causes excruciating pain in the affected joints. Dried cranberries juice extracts produce an oil that can relieve pain and discomfort in limbs. Also, the bone-fortifying minerals – calcium and magnesium enhance connective tissue strength and improve the condition of brittle bones.
Supports Digestive Processes
Yet again, with the ascorbic acid values of vitamin C-enriched dried cranberry fruits being high, it provides the benefit of maintaining the pliability and functioning of arteries. Upon digestion, however, these citric components give rise to an alkaline environment in the gut. This helps to maintain stomach pH at normal, healthy levels. The dietary fibers in dried cranberry also aid in prompt bowel movements and thus halt any instances of hemorrhoids.
Acts In Wound Healing
The bioactive components found in dried cranberries, namely rutin flavonoids, carotenoids and pectins, are potent antioxidants which assist in healing injured tissues. Moreover, the vitamin C and protein values in these dry fruits being very high, bolster collagen synthesis and repair damaged regions of the body.
Purifies Arterial Passages
The clogging of arteries with fat deposits is the key contributing factor to atherosclerosis and diabetes-related heart complications. The mildly sweet dried cranberry juice is loaded with pectin, which cleanses arteries of unnecessary deposits, as well as vitamin C, which sustains the tensile strength of arteries.
Dried Cranberry Recipes:
Dried Cranberry Salad:
¼ cup dried cranberries
A few pieces of dry roasted almonds
2 tbsp shredded coconut
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, cut into small pieces
A bunch of cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
A few thinly sliced onion slices
In a large mixing bowl, add the dried cranberries, mint leaves, cucumber pieces and onion slices and mix thoroughly, adding a little bit of water, so that the flavours blend into a fusion.
Garnish with the almonds, coconut and coriander and serve for lunch or dinner.
Dried cranberry supplies ample vitamin C for immunity, while mint and coriander leaves offer calcium for strong bones. Almonds are a rich source of proteins for enhanced muscle strength and enzyme activity.
Dried Cranberry Cake:
1 ½ cups dried cranberry juice
2 cups of all-purpose flour
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
3 cups of flax seed extract
1 cup sugar
Mix the ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl, adding a little water to make it into a soft dough.
Mildly oil a baking pan and spread the mic onto it evenly.
Preheat oven to 180 celcius and place the baking pan.
Cook for 30 minutes and then allow the dried cranberry cake to cool down to room temperature.
Cut it into equal-sized pieces and enjoy with your evening tea.
The ample antioxidant content in dried cranberry aids in enhancing skin health, promoting hair growth and also improving heart activity. Flax seeds are an excellent source of proteins for optimal growth and development.
Side Effects Of Dried Cranberries:
- Avoid eating these dry fruits in case you are allergic, as it may lead to severe situations of hypersensitivity.
- Do not consume dried cranberries in excessive amounts as the stomach acid levels may become alarmingly high.
- Exercise caution when eating dried cranberries in case you are suffering from kidney and liver conditions.
Dried cranberries offers immense health benefits including promoting heart health, preventing cancers, enhancing hair growth and treating joint pain and urinary tract infections. Moreover, it also supplies dietary requirements of vitamin C, anthocyanin antioxidants, potassium, iron, magnesium for optimal heart functions, blood circulation and bone health.
However, one must consume it in moderation and not eat it in excess amounts, to prevent any side effects like indigestion, bloating, constipation from occurring.
Dried cranberries, since they are preserved and have a long shelf life, can be enjoyed all-year round and eaten as such or as juice, to obtain the wonderful benefits it provides for overall well-being.