Ever have a flashback to when kale wasn’t cool (#tbt)? Well, there’s a new crew of superfoods about to hit your plates and IG feeds. We teamed up with Ocean Spray to clue you in on the trends. Learn about all six craze-worthy foods here, and keep reading to find out why the health benefits of cranberries earned it a spot.
Nope, cranberries officially aren’t just for Thanksgiving anymore. If you haven’t heard, the bright berry has been buzzing all year long, and we’re calling it as the superfruit taking over the wellness scene.
Besides being so satisfyingly tart (they pair well with both your sweet and salty faves), cranberries have a ton of health-boosting potential—so we asked Eliza Savage, RD at Middleberg Nutrition, and Barbara Mendez, nutritionist and pharmacist, to explain why, exactly, we should be adding them to our plates.
“I like to think of superfoods as a great garnish to any meal,” Savage says. “It’s a great way to increase the flavor and nutritional profile—without a ton of work. Your digestive system will thank you!”
Scroll down for the lowdown on all the health benefits of cranberries, plus omg-delish ideas for how to start adding them to your diet.
Benefits of cranberries
So what makes cranberries so super compared to all the other fruits in the produce aisle? According to Mendez and Savage, their benefits are legit, and it all centers around their high antioxidant content.
In case you’re still a little unclear on what exactly antioxidants are (because, aren’t we all?), Savage breaks it down like this: “Antioxidants work by [neutralizing] free radicals…preventing them from causing damage to cells in the body.” In other words, they could give you a helping hand down to the most basic level: your cells.
Cranberries have more antioxidants than pears, grapes, apples, and strawberries—and less sugar, we might add. And you want in on that antioxidant game to help nix potentially harmful free radicals in order to help protect your skin (hey, glowy complexion).
According to Mendez, the antioxidants in cranberries have been shown to protect against heart disease and certain cancers, and their high concentration of the antioxidant proanthocyanadins makes them effective at remedying urinary tract infections.
Vitamin C (another big-time antioxidant) makes them superstars at helping to protect against anemia and poor immune function. AKA—put down the Emergen-C next time you feel a cold coming on, and try some cranberry juice instead.
Oh, and not to mention, cranberries are a good source of prebiotic fibers to keep your gut happy, too.
Why they’re trending
If you haven’t noticed cranberries popping up in your favorite natural products, you will now. Up-and-coming bars like Epic’s paleo cranberry almond turkey bar and Elemental’s cranberry almond lucuma seedbar are combining the berries with other popular ingredients for max impact. Manitoba Harvest is following suit with its organic cranberry and hemp granola, and Trader Joe’s is getting in on the cranberry craze with its Omega Trek Mix and Cranberry Chevre fresh goat cheese.
Prefer your cranberries in liquid form? You can drink your berries in Ocean Spray® Pure Cranberry (with no added sugar), which serves as an ideal power shot in the morning. Just two ounces contains juice from 53 berries, which means you’re loading up on vitamins, polyphenols, and all their reported heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory properties in one quick wellness shot. How’s that for fast food?
In the breakfast sphere, The Chia Co. quinoa pods come in a cranberry-coconut flavor, and Bob’s Red Mill has a grab-and-go cranberry orange oatmeal cup. Plus, you can get your cranberries-for-breakfast fix IRL at buzzy NYC breakfast spot Oatmeals, where you can add whole cranberries to your DIY bowl (if you’re outside NYC, just try adding some Craisins® Original Dried Cranberries to your overnight oats).
Meanwhile, Chloe’s soft serve fruit shop offers a cranberry flavor, and cult-fave Ample Hills Creamery scoops up a vegan cranberry gin fizz sorbet. Oh, and don’t forget Starbucks’ famous cranberry bliss bars. There’s a reason there are over 400,000 copycat recipes online—because they’re that good.
How to use them
If your mind automatically goes to jellied cranberry sauce as the only way to eat the tangy berries, you’ve been really selling them short—because despite their one-dish reputation, they’re actually surprisingly versatile.
Toss a handful of dried cranberries on top of a buckwheat, apple, and avocado salad for a contrasting flavor, or mix them into oatmeal. To put a citrusy spin on your usual post-workout shake, freeze fresh cranberries and blend them into a smoothie with orange, banana, and a scoop of almond butter.
And if you really want to turn up the zest factor on dishes you’re probably already eating, mix cranberries into wild rice, roast them with brussels sprouts, or try this cranberry broccoli salad recipe (trust us) to get the benefits of two craze-worthy foods at once. Amping up the nutrition of your favorite dishes with minimal effort? Sounds like the definition of super.
In partnership with Ocean Spray
Photos: Ocean Spray