Why This Dietician Says You Should Eat a Cranberry a Day

Forget the apples. This registered dietician recommends eating (or drinking) cranberries every day and shares some of her favorites ways to do so.
cranberries and cranberry cocktail

Think cranberries are just for the holiday season? Think again. These unassuming crimson berries shouldn’t be relegated to side-dish status once or twice a year.

Cranberries are packed with health benefits that you can enjoy all year long. Check out the amazing health benefits packed in these tiny berries.

Cranberries are a Great Source of Antioxidants

Cranberries are rich in antioxidant vitamin C and phytochemicals, such as anthocyanins.

Anthocyanins give the cranberry its deep, ruby hue. Phytochemicals are potent antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals in the body. They can also reduce oxidative stress that, left unchecked, can lead to heart disease, certain cancers, and other degenerative diseases.

Cranberries May Lower the Risk of UTIs

Cranberries may also come to mind if you are one of the 50-60% of women who have suffered the unfortunate symptoms of a urinary tract infection, or UTI.

If you are, cranberries can help.

Cranberries possess bacteria-blocking properties, which can help prevent UTIs, ulcers, and even gingivitis. They boast type-A proanthocyanidins (PACs), which can help prevent bacteria from taking hold in the body.

Xyloglucan oligosaccharides, another beneficial compound present in cranberries, have been studied for their ability to prevent cell adhesion. According to a 2015 study, Xyloglucan oligosaccharides may protect against E.coli, the leading cause of UTIs.

A 2016 study found that, among recurrent UTI sufferers, those who consumed cranberry juice had a lower rate of recurrence compared with those who drank a placebo beverage (non-cranberry beverage).

This is especially welcome news as we see a rise in antibiotic resistance. As medical professionals continue to prescribe antibiotics at an alarming rate, bacteria continue to adapt and become resistant to the medications that once treated them. Using cranberries as a way to prevent and treat certain infections might offer a way to reduce the overuse of antibiotics.

Of course, if you experience persistent or painful symptoms, speak to your doctor before self-diagnosing.

How to Enjoy Cranberries Any Day of the Year

You can enjoy the protective benefits of cranberries with just one serving per day.

So, exactly what constitutes one serving of cranberry?

  • 10oz of 27% juice cocktail
  • 1 ½ cups of fresh berries
  • 1oz dried cranberries
  • 1 ½ cup of cranberry sauce
  • 1 – 2 tbsp freeze-dried cranberry powder

Try a few of these tips for incorporating cranberry into your daily routine and start reaping the benefits of these nutrient-dense powerhouse berries:

  • Add dried cranberry powder to smoothies, yogurts, or desserts.
  • Add a handful of dried cranberries to sautéed kale, garlic, and onion for a sweet and tangy flavor profile.
  • Add dried cranberries to wild rice, walnuts, and celery for a hearty and fiber-filled side dish.
  • Sprinkle some dried cranberries on your salad for a little extra zest.
  • Try swirling a tablespoon of cranberry sauce into plain greek yogurt for a tangy protein-packed snack.
  • Add a cup fresh cranberries to quick bread for a bright, tart flavor.
  • Try adding a splash of cranberry juice to plain seltzer for a refreshing non-alcoholic mocktail.

Try these tips and create your own to add a splash of color and a healthy dose of health to your meals every day of the year.

Justine Hays, MS, RD, CDN
Hi! I'm Justine Hays, a registered dietitian, and wellness writer. Food, and memories of food, shaped my life early on, so did my drive and desire to help people. After getting a B.S. in business and marketing, I found my heart wasn't totally satisfied by what I was doing. So, I went back to school and earned my Masters in Dietetics and became a registered dietitian. Working with the general public, I see how much information (and misinformation) is out there. It can be overwhelming! Understanding the facts about food, and how foods work in our bodies, helps us let go of myths and fear so we can get back to enjoying food that nourishes our bodies. That's why I believe in letting experts, like dietitians, deliver the straight answers. I can help you understand what works, what doesn't, why, and how you can make choices to live your healthiest and happiest life. I believe in a whole food approach, meaning everything in moderation. As a working mother, I don't want to spend all my time in the kitchen when there are pictures to paint, flowers to pick, and playgrounds to explore. I find ways to prepare most of my foods from scratch with a healthy dose of convenience foods to make it easier. I prep, plan, and produce (mostly) healthy and affordable meals the whole family will eat, with a sweet treat thrown in the mix for balance, and I always look for ways to get the littlest hands involved in the kitchen. For more information about me and what I do, and for ways to communicate health value with your customers, or to work with a registered dietitian for yourself, your practice, product, website, or blog, please visit justinehaysnutrition.com and get in touch!