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Cranberries: Health benefits, nutritional content, and risks

Cranberries are a favorite part of Thanksgiving celebrations, consumed as cranberry sauce, cranberry drinks, and dried cranberries added to stuffing, casseroles or dessert.

No one knows for sure how they became associated with holiday feasts, but historians guess it had something to do with the Native Americans, who used cranberries not only for food and medicine but also to make dyes for clothing and blankets.

Cranberries are native to North America. They are farmed on approximately 40,000 acres across the northern United States (U.S.) and Canada.

Cranberries are a healthful food, due to their high nutrient and antioxidant content. They are often referred to as a “super food.” Half a cup of cranberries contains only 25 calories.

The nutrients in cranberries have been linked to a lower risk of urinary tract infections, prevention of certain types of cancer, improved immune function, and decreased blood pressure.

This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods.

Fast facts on cranberries:Here are some key points about cranberries. More detail is in the main article.

    • Cranberries are a popular and healthful food, associated with Thanksgiving.
    • They are low in calories and high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K.
    • They also contain proanthocyanidins (PACs), an antioxidant that may help prevent a range of diseases.
    • Since they are a good source of vitamin K, people who use blood thinners should ask their doctor before consuming extra cranberries. Read More