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One of North America's only native fruits is being recognized for its versatility, convenience and powerful nutritional benefits as Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman officially proclaims October National Cranberry Month.
"The tart and tangy flavor of cranberries really makes them a unique treat, and they are fun to pair with lots of our usual favorites," said Jackie Newgent, New York-based chef and registered dietitian. "With all of the research supporting the positive health benefits of cranberries, people should be seeking ways to enjoy them all year round - not just at Thanksgiving."
Drawing national attention to cranberries might help people gain a new appreciation for the most misunderstood berry.
"We have found that many people - including health professionals - know that cranberries can help ward off bladder and urinary tract infections (UTIs). Cranberries have so much more to offer in the way of health benefits, and October is our chance to kick start the education process," said Martin Starr, PhD, Science Advisor to the Cranberry Institute.
Dr. Amy Howell, research scientist with Rutgers University agrees.
"Most people think that the cranberry's UTI-fighting abilities come from the fruit's acidity. Our studies show that cranberries actually contain 'bacteria-blockers', which prevent bad bacteria from sticking to cells and organs where they can multiply and cause infections," said Howell.
Dr. Howell's landmark study into this bacteria-blocking action was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1998. This and other recent work has led scientists to other compelling areas of research:
Cranberries rank as one of the best sources of valuable antioxidants, such as flavonoids, that can also aid in the prevention of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
"Cranberries are a nutritional powerhouse," said Jackie Newgent, RD. "They should be on everyone's A-list for foods that are delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare."
The Cranberry Institute, a non-profit organization founded in 1951 to promote education and research, funds exploration into health and medical benefits of cranberry as well as topics related to environmental stewardship.
The Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research Center, located in Chatsworth, NJ, maintains research programs on the identification of natural products in cranberry with health benefits.
Jackie Newgent, RD, CDN--Chef & Registered Dietitian
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