Lucky to have cranberries after icy start

Nov. 21, 2012 at 12:33 PM
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ITHACA, N.Y., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- One thing we can all be thankful for this Thanksgiving is that we have cranberries after the early spring and later frost, a U.S. expert says.

Justine Vanden Heuvel, an assistant professor in the Department of Horticulture in Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and a former cranberry specialist at the University of Massachusetts Cranberry Station in East Wareham, Mass., said it was a challenging year for cranberries, due to the early season and the problems protecting against frost.

"The buds pushed crazily early and then growers had to protect against colder temperatures than usual, which were challenging because the nights were windy so that the ice evaporated from the buds rather than melted, which cools the bud about seven times faster," Vanden Heuvel said in a statement. "On the upside, due to the long growing season on the bogs, which were able to successfully protect against frost and cold temperatures, fruit color was really good this year."

Cranberries are high in vitamin C, fiber and manganese, but their real health benefits come from phytonutrients high in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

"When speaking in general terms about the health benefits of cranberries, it is also important to know that the most commonly consumed form of this food is juice processed from the berries and typically produced by adding generous amounts of sugar," the website World's Healthiest Foods said. "This form of cranberry cannot provide you with cranberry's full phytonutrient benefits as the whole cranberry. The cranberry 'presscake' -- or what is left behind in terms of skins and flesh after the juice has been processed out -- typically contains the bulk of the phytonutrients when evaluated in lab studies."

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