Cranberries: Not Just For Thanksgiving!

Health benefits of cranberries

Cranberries are a popular part of holiday meals but they offer so much nutritious goodness you should consider including them in your diet throughout the year! You may be surprised about the many health benefits of cranberries.


Health Benefits of Cranberries:

  • One 1/2 cup serving of fresh, raw cranberries provides at least 10 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C and fiber and only 25 calories!
  • Cranberries are a good source of Vitamin A, Beta Carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, folate and minerals like potassium and manganese.
  • Research suggests that the insoluble fiber in cranberry skins may help to optimize gut bacteria
  • Cranberries contain flavonoids including anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins which are potent antioxidants that:
    • protect against oxdative damage
    • provide anticancer and antitumor protection
    • provide antibacterial protection against urinary tract infections and H. pylori infections in the stomach.
    • Decrease chronic inflammation related to periodontal disease
    • Decrease inflammation in the stomach, colon and cardiovascular system.


Synergy Matters!

The phytonutrient benefits provided by cranberries are dependent on being consumed in combination with each other. In other words eating whole unprocessed cranberries is best for capitalizing on the health benefits.


How to Select, Store and Prep:

Cranberries are available fresh from October through December but can be frozen for up to a year.

Select fresh, plump and deep red berries that are firm to the touch. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Rinse under running water prior to use.

To freeze fresh cranberries: Spread washed and dried cranberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet; place in freezer. Once frozen, store in a Ziploc bag until ready to use. Thaw well and drain prior to use. Can be placed frozen into cooked recipes but cooking time may need to be adjusted. You don’t have to thaw them to toss into a smoothie.

Dried Cranberries: provide as much as 6 times the calories, 16 times the sugar and considerably less of the desired nutrients. Opt for low sugar or juice-sweetened options.


How to Enjoy Cranberries Between the Holidays:

  • Add to hot cereal, muffins or breads.
  • Mix into favorite cobbler or pie recipes.
  • Mix into salads. Try this recipe.
  • The tartness of the cranberries would be great in salad dressings! Try the recipe here.
  • Mix into smoothies. Try the recipes here and here and here.
  • Try my cranberry whole-grain muffin recipe.


Fresh cranberries leftover from Thanksgiving were the inspiration for this post. My son was asking me to make some muffins to send in his lunchbox. I found a whole grain cranberry muffin recipe here,  and I must say we are all very happy with how they turned out! There is a glaze recipe included but I found the muffins to be sweet enough without it.

Eat well, be well!



I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Greensboro, North Carolina. I help people overcome nutrition obstacles and help them meet their nutrition and wellness goals.

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Hi, I’m Mona. I have been living with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS) for over ten years. As a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) I help others with MS to navigate the nutrition superhighway and make sustainable progress toward their unique wellness goals.

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