We have all had cranberry sauce, right? The main accessory to the turkey at a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.
The cranberry is a sour and a somewhat bitter berry with a beautiful red color. The old name was crane berry, because the flowers looked like a crane’s head and neck. Cranes actually do like to eat them and the berries grow in their favorite places, sandy peat bogs.
The cranberry is a bit bigger than a lingonberry. Lingon, also wonderfully sour with a beautiful red color, is a very poplular berry in the Nordic countries in Europe. Most often eaten as a jam, called lingonsylt.
But cranberries are also found in Scandinavia. They grow on marshes, just as the cloudberries do. However, when the cranberries are ripe and harvested, they have to be hand picked. And that is one of the reasons that the crops are not as big as those for the lingonberries. Furthermore hard-to-reach sites such as wetlands and marshes do not make it easier.
Cranberries mature in late summer and early autumn and then turn red. And because of the high level of benzoic acid they last for a long time, even under the snow covers until spring. Lingonberries are picked a bit earlier, showing off a beautiful intense red color.
Both lingon and cranberries belong to the blueberry genus, Vaccinium, in the heather family.
There are so many health benefits from eating these little berries. Here are some of the most important ones:
They are good for breathing and open up bronchial tubes because they contain nature’s most potent vasodilator. Ie the smooth muscles of the blood vessels relax and the vessels expand.
2 Urinary tract infections
They are powerful against bacterial infections in the bladder, kidneys and urinary tract. Especially known to assist in urinary tract infections. Lingon may have a more powerful effect because they have higher tannin content.
3 Protect brain cells
They have a high concentration of ursolic acid. Which has been shown to be able to protect brain cells from injury and degeneration, possibly even reversing injury.
4 Positive for heart and vascular
They contain proantocyanins (the blue-red color), a flavonoid. And they have been shown in studies to have many positive effects on conditions such as hypertension and other cardiovascular disease.
5 Cell protection
They have high levels of polyphenols (an antioxidant) which are believed to protect our cells from aging prematurely. Can also positively affect blood glucose levels, lower body inflammation, and lessen insulin resistance. Maybe even lower cholesterol and fat levels in the liver.
So talk about superberries from the North!
Look for them now when they are in season and eat them fresh in the fall. Or freeze them, so you can use them year round. Or choose sun dried without any added sugar or sweet juice.
What to look for
Look for firm, colorful and plump berries. (Here’s a way to choose the good ones. But I’m not recommending it: Roll them down a few steps. Those who are good bounce like little balls, the soft ones remain on the steps. You get it, right? ;-)