Cranberries have moderate levels of vitamin C, dietary fiber and the
essential dietary mineral, manganese, as well as a balanced profile of
other essential micronutrients.
Cranberries are a source of polyphenol antioxidants, phytochemicals under active research for possible benefits to the cardiovascular system, immune system and as anti-cancer agents.
Cranberry juice contains a chemical component, a high molecular weight non-dializable material (NDM), as noted above, that is able to inhibit and even reverse the formation of plaque by Streptococcus mutans pathogens that cause tooth decay. Cranberry juice components also show efficacy against formation of kidney stones.
Raw cranberries and cranberry juice are abundant food sources of the anthocyanidin flavonoids, cyanidin, peonidin and quercetin. These compounds have an unknown effect on human health, but are powerful against human cancer cells in vitro. Their effect in humans, however, is unproven, showing poor absorption into human cells and rapid elimination from blood.
By measure of the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity with an ORAC
score of 9,584 units per 100 g, cranberry ranks near the top of 277
commonly consumed foods in the United States.
Species and description
Vaccinium macrocarpon or Oxycoccos macrocarpus (Large cranberry,
American Cranberry, Bearberry) native to northeastern North America
(eastern Canada, and eastern United States, south to North Carolina at
high altitudes). It differs from V. oxycoccus in the leaves being
larger, 10-20 mm long, and in its slightly apple-like taste.