More than just a sweet sauce and a part of festive décor during holidays, the cranberry is a super fruit. Cranberries have a high concentration of antioxidants and phytonutrients, plus anti-yeast and anti-fungal properties. Cranberry juice has been used to treat and prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) because of proanthocyanidins, a class of polyphenols that prevent bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract lining. For this reason it is also believed that cranberries can kill bacteria that cause stomach cancer and ulcers. Cranberries also have anti-cancer (breast, colon, lung and prostate) benefits, inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells and tumors.
Cranberries have anti-inflammatory properties and are believed to protect the cardiovascular system and the liver. The proanthocyanidins in cranberries also promotes gastrointestinal health by aiding the digestive tract, and oral health by preventing plaque formation. Cranberries also help lower LDL (bad) and raise HDL (good) cholesterol.Read more about about cranberries and anthocyanidin and other health benefits of cranberries.
Cranberries are indigenous to North America and found in Northern United States and southern Canada. Native Americans cooked cranberries and sweetened them with honey or maple syrup. They also used cranberries for decorating, as a source of red dye, and as a poultice for wounds. Tannins in cranberries help stop bleeding and have antibiotic effects.
Skin Care Benefits
In addition to preventing urinary tract infections, cranberry juice helps detoxify the skin and is particularly useful for those who are acne-prone or suffer from psoriasis or have oily skin. In addition cranberries help reduce skin inflammation, redness, and itchy, irritated skin.
Cranberry oil can be found in anti-aging products because it helps fight against free radicals, the cause of premature aging such as wrinkling of the skin. Because it easily absorbs into the skin it works as a great moisturizer and aids in moisture retention, improving skin elasticity and suppleness. It also smoothes skin texture and brightens the complexion.
The anti-bacterial properties found in cranberries also makes them a good ingredient to use in facial cleansers, in pore cleansers and toners for acne-prone skin, and for use in body washes, scrubs and masks. And speaking of cranberry masks, here’s a great one from DIY beauty expert, Erika Katz, author of Bonding Over Beauty: A Mother-Daughter Guide to Self Esteem, Confidence and Trust.
Cranberry Anti-Aging Face Mask
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup seedless red grapes
2 teaspoons grapefruit juice
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
Mix ingredients until it becomes a paste. Cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes to let the mixture thicken. Remove from the fridge and let sit for about 10 minutes. Spread the mixture on clean, dry skin, avoiding the eye area. Relax for 15 minutes, and then rinse off with warm water.
Be sure to test for sensitivity by applying the mask to a less sensitive area of the body, such as the forearm before applying to the face.
About the ingredients:
Red grapes. Red grapes contain resveratrol, the reason why red wine has been championed as being so healthy (in moderation). This antioxidant helps fight free radicals and protect against UV damage and skin cancer and thereby fights the formation of wrinkles. The skin and seeds of grapes are also a source of proanthoyandins to promote the production of collagen and elastin fibers.
Grapefruit juice. Grapefruit has antibacterial properties, as well as vitamin C to protect the skin against environmental skin stressors and stimulate the production of collagen. It also contains vitamin A (retinol), which promotes skin regeneration and rejuvenation and protects against skin pigmentation problems due to UV exposure. Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) from fruit acids found in grapefruit (and grapes) also helps remove dead skin cells.
Gelatin. Gelatin is often used in skin peels and masks to eliminate dead skin cells and tone and firm the skin. As an ingredient in a mask it dries and stiffens and once peeled off removes dead skin and dirt, and unclogs and cleanses the pores.