The shopping list for a typical Thanksgiving spread is pretty lengthy: turkey, stuffing, potatoes, green beans, rolls, pumpkin pie, etc. But, according to a recent Instacart survey, turkey doesn’t rule the roost on “Turkey Day.” Grocery stores actually sell more cans of cranberry sauce than any other Thanksgiving staple! If you find this holiday data mind-blogging, well know that feasting on cranberry sauce may be smart. That’s because research shows that cranberries help to ward off dementia and, more specifically, prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
A Berry Healthy Way to Prevent Alzheimer’s
The Alzheimer’s Association differentiates that dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life, while Alzheimer’s is a specific disease. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s, the most common neurodegenerative disease, include gradual memory loss and impaired cognitive ability in aging people.
There isn’t a single known cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers believe it develops from multiple factors, such as genetics, lifestyle and environment. Some risk factors — like age, family history and heredity — are out of one’s control and can’t be changed. Yet, some other risk factors are modifiable.
Here are ways to reduce the risk of dementia and/or prevent Alzheimer’s:
- quit (or never start) smoking,
- engage in regular physical activity,
- control diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity,
- practice proper sleep hygiene,
- maintain healthy social engagements, and
- consume a heart-healthy diet.
Ways You Can Cran
Boasting the benefits of improved memory and brain function, gobbling up cranberries on Thanksgiving (and year-round) should be a no-brainer. However, respondents to another Instacart survey cited cranberry sauce as their least favorite Thanksgiving staple. In spite of their disdain for this tangy side dish, customers still ordered enough canned cranberry sauce last November to create a stack more than 188,000 feet tall!
It’s important to note, however, that canned cranberry is usually loaded with sugar; whereas homemade cranberry sauces can be a healthier option. US Cranberries, a marketing committee, calls cranberries “America’s original superfruit!” Antioxidant-rich cranberries aid the body’s digestive health and promote good heart health, and may also improve blood pressure, cholesterol and lower the risk of cancer. Plus, aside from being linked to better brain function, cranberries are known to benefit urinary tract health.
Festive foodies can indulge in either jellied cranberry sauce or whole-berry cranberry chutneys. Try smashing fresh cranberries with apple or orange juice, honey or white balsamic vinegar to achieve the desired sweetness. Use leftover cranberry sauce as you would a standard jam (on toast, pancakes or atop oatmeal). If dried cranberries are your go-to for salad toppings or baking, note that one cup of chopped raw cranberries contains 14.6 mg of vitamin C per serving, while one cup of dried cranberries contains 0.3 mg.
Need a cranberry recipe? For breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert dishes featuring cranberries, which may prevent Alzheimer’s, click here.