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Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Food That's Good for You!

Candy, cookies, pies, gravy, stuffing, egg nog, cocktails.  So many tasty stuff that we enjoy at the holidays are not so great for us.  How about a traditional holiday food that people have been using as medicine for hundreds of years?

The cranberry.

Native Americans used cranberries as a way to fight infection--both eating them and by making a paste from them to cover a cut on the skin--using them as an antibiotic.  When settlers from the Old World hit the rock in New England, they found these little red berries all over the place.  Of course, they didn't taste so great--pretty sour. 

But that was good as far as they were concerned.  They believed that sour things counteracted too much salt in the body.  And they thought that too much salt (from the sea, mostly) caused scurvy.  So they ate limes and, eventually, cranberries, to avoid coming down with this terrible disease.  Today we know that sour fruits are high in Vitamin C, a deficiency of which causes scurvy.  Whatever the reason, the New World settlers ate up the cranberries.

These days, more studies are being done on compounds found in cranberries (and other fruits).  We know that these berries (as well as a number of other fruits, including blueberries) are full of antioxidants, which help to slow the effects of aging and memory loss. 

Read more in this NPR article.  Especially fascinating is the information about blueberries and their effect on memory.  There are some nice cocktail recipes in the article, too.

So enjoy your cranberry sauce with your holiday dinner.  It just might help you to keep some of those holiday memories longer!

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