That dollop of cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving plate may offer more than just a burst of tangy sweetness. Research shows that the ruby-red fruit is packed with antioxidants—in fact, a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that whole cranberries may contain more phenols (a type of potent antioxidant) than any other commonly eaten fruit or veggie. The study even found that the phenol content of cranberries was five times greater than that of broccoli.
By loading up on phenols, you're likely to strengthen your defense against major health problems like cancer, stroke, and heart disease. What's more, cranberry is a top source of vitamin C (an antioxidant shown to rev up your immune system and shield you from the common cold).
Sipping cranberry juice may also enhance your health, according to several studies. For instance, research from the University of Scranton shows that drinking three glasses of cranberry juice each day may nurture your heart health by increasing your levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol. Additionally, including cranberry juice in your daily diet may stave off certain bacteria and, in turn, prevent common infections (including urinary tract infections).
To keep cranberries on your plate all year round, try tossing the juicy fruit into grain dishes, salsas, breads, baked goods, and smoothies. You can also keep these goodies on hand to boost your cranberry consumption.