|Photo courtesy of North Carolina State University Extension|
I heard a listing recently of people’s most liked Thanksgiving foods. The obvious choices floated to the top, with the tart cranberry getting very little love. Cranberries may have ranked pretty low on the list but it made me think about the history and benefits of cranberries.According to Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association, cranberries have history dating back to being a staple in the diet of Native Americans. They are one of the three fruits commercially grown and can trace its origin back to North America. The other two are Concord grapes and blueberries. Cranberries were grown by Native Americans, using them for food, fabric dye and medicinal uses. The name of these tart little berries is derived from the word “craneberry” as the cranberry flowers resembles the head and bills of Sandhill cranes.
I’m sure you’ve heard of some of the health benefits of cranberries and there may be some people that take cranberry pills as a supplement each day. According to Michigan State University Extension, cranberries are considered a superfood because of their high nutrient content, antioxidant properties, and being a good source of vitamin C. Health benefits of cranberries include improved immune function, lower risk of urinary tract infections, decreased blood pressure, and prevention of certain types of cancer.If you just can’t get past the tartness of straight cranberries, or cranberry sauce, there are other avenues to explore. There are salsas, sauces, breads and trail mixes where cranberries can all be incorporated. Alternatively, as many of us may be thinking about decorating for Christmas in the next couple of weeks, there are various decorating themes open to using cranberries, including popcorn and cranberry strings on Christmas trees. Cranberries really do seem to be a versatile food! Just make sure to keep the cranberry decorations out of reach of any indoor pets.