Tiny cranberries play a big part in holiday meals. Although those tart, ruby red berries fit perfectly into the season’s color scheme because of their vibrant red hue, they aren’t just for the holidays. Full of antioxidants and other disease-fighting properties, this superfood should be part of our diets year round.

Cranberries contain special antioxidant compounds called proanthocyanidins, or PACs, that help prevent harmful bacteria from adhering to cells in the body, particularly in the stomach, mouth and bladder. While it has not been proven that cranberry juice can treat an active infection, it is helpful in preventing not only bladder infections, but also stomach ulcers and dental diseases.

Because they are so rich in antioxidants, cranberries have been shown to reduce the risk of some cancers, including breast, lung, prostate and colon cancer as well as other chronic conditions.

Cranberries are also a good source of vitamins C and K, plus phosphorus and fiber. Another notable health benefit includes lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) while raising the good (HDL). Keeping cholesterol in check can also lessen the risk of heart attacks or strokes.

So go ahead and enjoy cranberries this holiday season and in the year to come. Your body will thank you.

Cranberry Salsa

1 (12 oz.) bag fresh cranberries
1 tbsp. minced purple onion
2 serrano peppers, seeded and minced
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 c. agave or honey
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
Grated zest of 1 large orange

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

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