Continuing in our Thanksgiving theme, let’s talk about cranberries. There is a strong local crop of cranberries (see blog post from earlier this month) and their peak harvest time is this month, so you are likely to find lots of local cranberry options available. How do cranberries stack up as a health food? Pretty well in fact. It turns out they have lots of anti-oxidants, which are chemicals that help treat oxidation processes inside you.
What does that even mean? Well, as you (and your cells) get older, the molecules inside of them are more likely to react with nasty oxidants and cause harmful chemical reactions, called oxidation reactions. These oxidation reactions are responsible for a whole host of health effects, including aging (think: wrinkles and sunspots) and they are also associated with the development of a variety of cancer types. Anti-oxidants are molecules that help stop this oxidation reaction. Lots of natural anti-oxidants exist, including cranberries and blueberries, and can help minimize some of the negative health reactions associated with oxidation.
In addition to the anti-oxidants, cranberries have all kinds of vitamins, including vitamin C, E, and K. It is relatively easy to find (and eat) foods that are rich in vitamin C (think: all citrus fruits), but less easy to find foods rich in vitamins E and K (nuts, dark leafy greens). Eat cranberries, get healthier, I guess. Just beware that if you make cranberry sauce like I do, the large quantities of sugar that you are putting in probably aren’t the biggest health food around.
Happy Thanksgiving, readers! Enjoy!