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All about “Cranberry”

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Nutritional value of cranberries

  1/2 cup (125 ml) whole raw cranberries / 50 g 1/2 cup (125 ml) pure cranberry juice (unsweetened)
Calories 23 61
Protein 0.2g 0.5 g
Carbohydrates 6.1 g 16.3 g
Fat 0.1g 0.2g
Dietary fiber 2.3 g 0.1g
Glycemic load  :     Moderate (cranberry cocktail)

Data not available for raw cranberries

Antioxidant power  : Very high

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File, 2010.

Cranberry (Cranberry): understand everything in 2 min


The tangy flavor of cranberries makes it an original ingredient to add to sauces and dressings . Filled with antioxidants , its refreshing juice would prevent urinary tract infections and the appearance of several diseases .

The benefits of cranberries

  • Urinary tract infections. Drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry tablets would be particularly effective in women to prevent urinary tract infections 3-4 . On the other hand, to date, no study has been able to demonstrate that the consumption of juice or other cranberry products could cure the infections of the urinary system (consult our file Urinary tract infection).For the recommended doses for people prone to urinary tract infections, see our Cranberry fact sheet in the natural health products section.
White cranberries
Before becoming red, cranberries are white. If picked at this time, it produces a colorless juice . It is slightly less tart than red, but has substantially the same nutritional value and the same total antioxidant power . On the other hand, we do not know if it provides all the beneficial effects of red cranberry juice on health.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders . Studies indicate that regular consumption of cranberry juice may prevent Helicobacter pylori infections in the stomach 13 , 15 . This bacteria is a cause of several stomach problems, including chronic gastritis and gastric and duodenal ulcers. Adding cranberry juice to conventional treatment would more effectively eradicate the bacteria . 14
  • Dental health . Consumption of cranberries and its various compounds would reduce the formation of dental plaque , tooth decay and periodontal disease 13 . On the other hand, most of the commercial juices offered on the market have a high sugar content and a high acidity. They are therefore not beneficial with regard to oral hygiene 16 .Various compounds isolated from cranberries could be used as supplements to improve oral health. Flavonols and proanthocyanidins extracted from cranberries have been shown to inhibit acid production by a bacteria involved in the development of tooth decay ( Streptococcus mutan ) and reduce the formation of dental biofilm that causes dental plaque 17 , 18 .
  • Cardiovascular illnesses. Several studies indicate that the consumption of flavonoids in food and drink can decrease the risk of atherosclerosis 5 , process leading to the appearance of cardiovascular diseases. In vitro research shows that the flavonoids extracted from cranberries prevent oxidation of LDL ( bad cholesterol ) as well as the aggregation of blood platelets, markers linked to cardiovascular disease 5 . In addition, consumption of cranberry juice would increase HDL ( good cholesterol ) 19. Consumed at the rate of 500 ml (2 cups) per day, the low-calorie cranberry cocktail would significantly lower blood pressure 19 .
  • Cancer. Several epidemiological studies show that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of certain cancers. In vitro studies show that cranberry extracts and compounds can inhibit the growth and proliferation of different types of cancer including breast , colon , prostate and lung cancer 21 .
  • Protection of neurons and Alzheimer’s disease. Cranberries, like blueberries, have been linked to protective effects on neurons (nerve cells) 13 . Animal studies indicate that eating several berries could inhibit or reverse the loss of communication between brain cells . It would also prevent certain age-related deficiencies that could affect various motor and cognitive aspects 13 . Furthermore, the consumption of fruit and vegetable juices 23 , and in particular cranberry, blueberry and blueberry extracts 24 could have a protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease.

What does cranberry contain?

Dried cranberries
Antioxidant compounds are said to be more abundant in dried cranberries than in fresh cranberries, due to the concentration linked to drying 11 . They would however retain the same properties. However, since their added sugar content is often high, it is better to consume them in moderate quantities.

The antioxidant capacity of cranberries is now unanimous with the scientific community. After blueberries, it would be the fruit with the best antioxidant activity 12 , with higher values ​​than many fruits such as apple, red grapes, strawberries, grapefruit and peach .

Flavonoids. Cranberries contain different types of flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals in the body and thus prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and various diseases related to aging. The 3 main classes of cranberry flavonoids are anthocyanins (which give the red color), flavonols and proanthocyanins . The latter would also prevent the adhesion of the E. coli bacteria causing infections in the walls of the urinary canal 3 .

Resveratrol. Cranberries contain resveratrol, a polyphenol from the stilben class. Although the antioxidant activity of resveratrol in red wine is well documented, little research has been done on this active compound in cranberries 13 . According to one study, the concentration of resveratrol in cranberry juice is comparable to that present in grape juice 26 .

Ursolic acid . Cranberries contain ursolic acid, a molecule in the class of triterpenes. This molecule is said to have anticancer potential by inhibiting the proliferation of certain types of cancer cells (liver and breast) 28 .

Main vitamins and minerals

Good source Vitamin C Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C.


In 2009, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency of the United Kingdom underlined the possible interaction between warfarin (anticoagulant marketed under the name Coumadin ® ) and cranberry juice. Indeed, it has been shown in vitro that cranberry juice could increase the anticoagulant effect of the drug and cause bleeding , 10 . More recent studies, however, call into question the conclusions of previous clinical studies 29. Although the evidence showing an interaction between cranberry juice and warfarin are low, it still suggests that patients taking warfarin or other anticoagulants, should be warned 30 and limit or avoid consumption of products cranberry.

Recipe ideas

with cranberries
  • Do not hesitate to add cranberries to fruit and vegetable salads  : for example with apples and celeriac; with lamb’s lettuce and sweet onions; with dandelions and a duck breast; endive and nuts, etc.
  • Sauce: they are simply simmered with a little honey in butter; if desired, flambé with cognac or rum.
  • You can use the juice in salad dressings, to deglaze a pan, for the preparation of carrots or glazed onions, in sorbets and ice creams.
  • Cranberries work well with coulis , sauces , chutneys or compotes . Use honey or maple syrup rather than refined sugar, reducing the proportions recommended in the recipes. Or mix the cranberries with other sweeter fruits. You can also use them in clafoutis with plums or cherries, or dip them in hot chocolate with other fondue fruits.
  • Decorate your pancakes with a sauce made of dried cranberries, orange juice and maple syrup that you have simmered for about twenty minutes in a little butter.
  • Dried cranberry sauce  : swell raisins and dried apricots as well as dried cranberries in lukewarm water. Brown onion or minced shallots and garlic, add pieces of nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds or any other oilseeds of your choice (pumpkin or sunflower seeds), dried fruit and a little d water or wine. Cook until the liquid has evaporated. Serve with poached or baked fish.
  • Use dried cranberries instead of raisins in muffins, bread mixes, cookies, etc. Add them to muesli or other granola-type preparations, in couscous or tajines.
  • Poultry stuffing  : brown the chopped onion and pine nuts in a pan; add fresh or frozen cranberries and apples. Simmer for a few minutes, then add cooked wild rice and season with the herbs of your choice. Stuff the poultry with this preparation.
  • Orange, cranberry and hazelnut crab  : cook the cranberries in a little water until they burst. Melt the butter, add the crab pieces, diced avocado, hazelnuts, orange segments, orange juice and cranberries. Cook for a few minutes and serve over rice or short pasta.

Choice and conservation

To choose

Given the tart flavor of the berry , sugar (glucose, fructose) is often added to cranberry products . It is therefore essential to read the label carefully in order to ensure that the product contains as little as possible or not at all. The cranberry cocktails usually contain more water than juice, besides it is not unusual to add their flavors and artificial colors. From a nutritional point of view, it is preferable to obtain the pure juice or the concentrate and to measure yourself the amount of water that you want to add to it.


Fridge. The fresh berries will keep for a few weeks and even a few months in the refrigerator, which is quite exceptional for a small fruit.

Freezer. Freeze them individually on a metal plate then bag them and put them back in the freezer. Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary to add sugar to them before freezing them.

The little story of cranberries

Common names: cranberry, atoca, lingonberry.
Scientific name: Vaccinium macrocarpon (Oxycoccus macrocarpus, Oxycoccus spp.).
Family: ericaceous.

The term ”  cranberry  ” appeared in the French language in 1665. Its origin is uncertain. It could derive from the English cranberry, name that the pioneers of New England gave to the plant by allusion to its port, which recalls that of the crane ( crane ). The term ”  atoca  “, which derives from the Iroquoian, appeared in 1632. It was therefore, for some time, the official name used to designate the plant.

Depending on the country, region and species, the cranberry has various names: meadowsweet in the Magdalen Islands, atoca or ataca in the rest of Quebec, lingonberry or peas of fagne in Europe. “Fagne” is a word of Walloon origin which means muddy marsh, where cranberries often grow.

Native to the acid bogs of eastern North America, cranberries have been consumed by various Native American nations at all times. Native Americans picked berries from August until late fall, even during winter and early spring. Part of the fruit was eaten fresh and the rest was set aside for the winter. They were kept in baskets of birch bark or in peat moss. They were also steamed or mixed with fat, or dried, sometimes with deer meat. Cranberries were part of the traditional pemmican (traditional Native American food, consisting of dried meat, fat and dried fruit) or accompanied smoked fish.

In western America, where other species grew wild, cranberries were traded. The Amerindians collected large quantities of them to sell them at the market.

At least one species is found in northern Asia and Europe, but only the species V. macrocorpon is cultivated commercially in the world. The first commercial exploitation was born in Massachusetts in 1816. It was not until the 1930s that a Quebec producer was interested in turn. Today, production covers more than 16,000 hectares in the northern United States and in Canada (Quebec, the Maritimes and British Columbia), the two main producing countries. Cranberries are also grown marginally in a few European countries, including Belarus and Ukraine.

Increasingly popular

For marine saltwater
From XVII th  century XIX th  century, the cranberry was largely consumed by the sailors of eastern North America. They found that those who ate it were not victims of scurvy . It was understood much later that this was due to the richness in vitamin C of the small berry.

Traditionally, in North America, cranberries were only consumed during Thanksgiving and during the holiday season, in the form of a sauce that accompanies the must-have turkey. However, since the late 1950s, cranberry juice has gradually established itself, to the point that today, about 80% of production is devoted to it.

The cranberry is closely related to the North American blueberry, the European blueberry, the lingonberry vine from Mount Ida (Crete Island) and various other berries of the genus Vaccinium . All these plants have in common that they are dwarf and creeping, grow in acid soils and give berries which are particularly rich in antioxidants . This explains their current popularity among people concerned about their health .

Fresh berries are only offered in season (September to December). You can also find on the market juice , concentrates , frozen berries and dried berries , some of which are flavored with maple syrup. There are also some specialty products such as mustard and cranberry apple cider vinegar, as well as mixed infusions including cranberry.

Organic gardening

Cranberries can be grown in the family vegetable garden, but it is essential that the soil is acidic (pH around 4.5). In most cases, this requires artificial acidification, either by adding a good amount of peat moss to the planting hole, or by amending with elemental sulfur or acidic fertilizers. It is also necessary to have a lot of water, on the one hand for the irrigation of plants, on the other hand to protect them from the harsh cold (water limits the harmful effects of the gel, as well as its drying action). On the other hand, unlike commercial crops, it is not necessary to flood the plants at the time of picking, this practice being strictly intended to facilitate mechanized harvesting, which takes advantage of the fact that the fruits float.

The first harvest will take place 3 years after planting. Harvest fruits only when their color is deep purple red .

Ecology and environment

The cranberries are usually grown in bogs , which raises some environmental concerns.

These fragile environments are particularly vulnerable to the agricultural activities that take place there. The need to build ponds for this crop can cause siltation of streams located downstream. In addition, the use of large quantities of water for irrigation and flooding of cranberries at various stages of their growth necessarily affects the water table.

Residues of fertilizers and chemical pesticides are also found in the environment when the water in the basins is drained, which can contaminate fish and other marine species. In addition, dikes designed to retain water can counteract the spawning habits of fish. Finally, the evacuation of water from the basins, which is at higher temperatures than that of the watercourses, causes the latter to heat up, which can harm marine and aquatic life.

For the time being, these effects are relatively small, given the still small size of the cranberry farms. In fact, it is estimated that urbanization and other forms of agriculture have a much greater impact on peatlands. And, on a positive note, we observed that the cranberry bogs welcome a diverse fauna , including certain endangered species: river otters, Canada cranes, ducks, geese, bald eagles, foxes, American mink, just to name a few.

For their part, producers are gradually adopting practices that reduce the impact of this crop on the environment . For example, some collect all the drainage and irrigation water from their basins, so as not to draw it elsewhere (in rivers in particular). Others are studying the movement of water in the soil to develop techniques to limit runoff. Finally, although still marginal, the organic culture of this berry is growing, which can only have a positive effect on the environment.

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