As a family physician, Dr. Ghahary strongly promotes healthy eating, including increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables. By incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet, you can significantly decrease the risk of many different diseases, including heart disease, as well as reduce high blood pressure. In general, fruits and vegetables are also rich in vitamins and minerals, so by increasing your intake you will also feel healthier overall, as well as notice an increase in energy.
When it comes to fruits, the most common ones known to provide the greatest benefit to your health include apples, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, mango, blueberries, pomegranate, as well as strawberries – and, according to health professionals, the normally underrated cranberries. Because cranberries are typically mostly consumed during the holiday season, such as Christmas or Thanksgiving, we don’t tend to realize just how good they are for us. But this superfood is actually quite high in fibre and rich in antioxidants – and not only that, but cranberries can also help control your blood sugar and even promote digestion. They’re also good for improving immune function, preventing urinary tract infections, and decreasing blood pressure.
That being said, when people do eat cranberries during the holiday season, 90% of the time they come from a can, and canned cranberries are usually sweetened. Therefore, if you’re going to consume cranberries and want to reap the most benefits, it’s important that you either A) make your own cranberry sauce (without any sugar or sweetener), or B) consume cranberries that are raw. Because cranberries are naturally less sweet, they won’t cause your blood sugar to spike. However, they will taste more tart which may take some getting used to, especially if you’re used to purchasing cranberry sauce from a store or drinking cranberry juice, which almost always has sugar added.
As mentioned, cranberries also promote digestion, and all it takes is one cup of the bright red fruit to help make the digestive tract healthier. Along with digestion, fibre also promotes regular bowel movements, and it will also keep you feeling fuller for longer periods of time. Meaning you’re less likely to develop cravings in-between meals, or want to snack late at night, which can also help maintain a healthy weight or even help you lose weight. Staying on the subject of weight, cranberries are also significantly lower in calories compared to most fruit, containing just 50 calories in one cup. In comparison, one cup of blueberries can contain as much as 80 calories, while an apple can be anywhere from 95 to 100 calories depending on its size. So, if you’re looking for a low-calorie fruit, cranberries are the way to go.
If you’re turned off from calories because of their sour taste, a great way to introduce yourself to the fruit and get your palette more used to it is to try incorporating it into other foods. For example, try mixing a small amount of cranberries with yogurt, in cereal (such as bran flakes), or in oatmeal. You can also find some unique recipes for cranberry sauce via the Food Network, but just remember to hold off on the sugar.