When I think of November flavors, cranberries come to the top of my mind. You can’t have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner without cranberry sauce to garnish your turkey. I personally look forward to the tart combination of cranberry sauce with savory stuffing and turkey. Cranberries are basically synonymous with the winter holidays. You can find them in holiday scents and deserts. I mean, who can resist a Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar? They are so interwoven into our holiday traditions it got me wondering, are they good for our skin?
The Benefits of Cranberries
So, here comes the science. Cranberries are incredibly high in polyphenols and Vitamins C, E, and K, which effectively fight free radicals to minimize the visible signs of aging, including fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and loss of elasticity. Cranberries actually contain more antioxidants than both broccoli and spinach. They also contain essential fatty acids to help your skin retain moisture.
Just like retinol, cranberries are rich in Vitamin A, meaning that they’re chock full of anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial superpowers, and as a result, help combat anti-aging and acne concerns.
In addition to the amazing antioxidants you are used to hearing about, cranberries have other excellent skin-supporting compounds. Many of these plant compounds are concentrated in the skin — and are significantly reduced in cranberry juice, so try using the whole fruit.
- Manganese. Found in most foods, manganese is essential for growth, metabolism, and your body’s antioxidant system.
- Quercetin. The most abundant antioxidant polyphenol in cranberries. In fact, cranberries are among the main fruit sources of quercetin
- Myricetin. A major antioxidant polyphenol in cranberries, myricetin may have a number of beneficial health effects.
- Ursolic acid. Concentrated in the skin, ursolic acid is a triterpene compound. It’s an ingredient in many traditional herbal medicines and has potent anti-inflammatory effects
Adding Cranberries To Your Diet
Alright, now that we know they are great for skin, how do we incorporate these tart little treats into our diet? Of course, fresh is best. Fresh, raw cranberries contain more of their health-boosting properties. But have you ever popped a raw cranberry into your mouth? Man, I just tried one, and I’m not sure I can consume a ¼ of a cup of them in their raw state without finding them a complementing companion. So, I’m recommending you use raw cranberries to add a tart flavor to fresh relishes and salads or sweeten them to reduce their naturally sour taste.
Dried cranberries are going to be the next best solution. About a 1/3 cup of dried cranberries will give you the same nutrient value as a ¼ cup of fresh cranberries, but it comes with the downside of added sugar. So, use with caution.
Then, there is juicing. If you have a juicer at home that will press the fruit and include the skins, then this might be the best route as you can blend it with some sweeter options.
I’m dedicating November to cranberries – it’s exploration time. Please follow our Eating Beautiful Facebook Group to see what crazy recipes I come up with. For now, I will leave you with my favorite Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce Recipe.
Beth’s Orange Cranberry Sauce
The key to cooking cranberries is not to overcook them. When you cook cranberries for too long or get them too hot, they become extremely bitter. I also recommend making this recipe ahead of time. I like them to sit in the refrigerator overnight.
- 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries
- ¼ of freshly squeezed orange juice
- ½ a cup of sugar (may substitute with coconut sugar as it has a lower glycemic index, honey, or maple syrup)
- ¾ cup water
- Orange zest
- Rinse your cranberries and discard any squishy ones.
- In a medium saucepan, combine orange juice, sugar and 3/4 cup water over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved
- Stir in cranberries and bring to a low boil; reduce heat and simmer until sauce has thickened and cranberries begin to pop, about 10 minutes. (Remember, if you cook for too long or at too high heat, they will get bitter – so safely do some taste testing. You may find that you will need to add some maple syrup or honey to offset the bitterness of the cranberries)
- Remove from heat and add fresh orange zest (adding it after cooking should help reduce the bitterness)
- Let them cool, then place in the fridge covered. Allowing them to settle for at least a day will also help reduce the bitterness, and the sauce will continue to thicken.
Feeling super festive? I hear adding a little cinnamon can take this recipe to new holiday depths. Plus, cinnamon is a phenomenal antioxidant!