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Cranberries belong to the order Ericales, family Ericaceaea, genus Vaccinium and sub-genus Oxycoccos. They can be identified as a group of dwarf evergreen shrubs, spread across colder regions of Northern Hemisphere.. Cranberries are mainly epigynous berries larger than the leaves of the plant which are white when young but become deep red when fully ripe. Their acidic taste takes over their sweetness but they form highly edible species of the plantae kingdom which are greatly liked the world over. Some such species include Vaccinium oxycoccos, V.microcarpum and V. macrocarpon.

Nutritional Analysis :

Cranberries represent moderate levels of Vitamin C and dietary fiber. Their highest nutrition density consists of minerals like calcium, manganese, mangnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. They are known to have high vitamin content such as lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, Vitamin A and Vitamin K. Cranberry is also known to contain certain phytochemicals and polyphenol antioxidants. Cranberry juice has been found to contain rich quantities of flavonoids, cyanidin, peonidin and quercertin.

Health Benefits :

The biggest health benefit that cranberries are known to have are in treating urinary tract infections. Their fruit extract has been studied to contain anti-bacterial agents which combine with other antibodies to fight E.coli infection. Cranberries contain quinic acid which keep calcium and phosphate ions to form insoluble stones. It lowers harmful cholesterol and raises good HDL in the body. They have been observed to improve the functioning of the blood vessels, thereby immensely reducing the risk of heart diseases and heart attacks. Laboratory studies have shown that consuming a handful of cranberries everyday can prevent the development of breast cancer cells in the body. It also is useful in the treatment of ulcers and other digestive disorders.

Preparations :

Cranberries are edible in fruit form or are cooked into jelly, sauce and tarts. They find best use as cranberry juice and cranberry juice powder for long term use.

References :

"About Cranberries" . Cranberry Institute . Retrieved 2009-11-13 .

Carol Cloud Bailey (2009-11-19). "Garden Tips: Give thanks for cranberries, grown with a taste of Florida" . . Scripps Interactive Newspapers Group . Retrieved 2009-11-20 .

"Newsroom - 'Superfruits' the future of health" . HortResearch . Retrieved 2009-11-13 .

"Superfruit To the Rescue > General News | New Zealand News UK |" . . Retrieved 2009-11-13 .