Not only can the tiny berries fight E. coli (the bacteria that causes urinary tract infections) and Streptococcus mutans (the bugs responsible for tooth decay), cranberries can also help your body get rid of H. pylori bacteria, which is linked to ulcers and stomach cancer, according to a study from Tel Aviv University in Israel published earlier this year. Add to this the fact that cranberries may also help prevent stroke and heart disease, and you have plenty of reasons to eat the berries year-round—not just during the holidays. According to David Grotto, R.D., spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, author of 101 Foods that Could Save Your Life (Bantam Books, 2008), and a dietitian in Elmhurst, Ill., you can get the health benefits of cranberries from:
- Cranberry Juice
6 ounces daily. Instead of a cranberry-juice cocktail, choose pure cranberry juice (look for brands like Lakewood and R.W. Knudsen at health food stores), and mix it with sparkling water and natural sweeteners like agave or honey-or blend it with other 100 percent fruit juices, says Grotto.
- Fresh or Dried Cranberries
½ cup daily. Use fresh berries in homemade breads or chutneys. Dried cranberries are less tart than fresh ones and are good snacks, but they're sugary (as is cranberry sauce), so stop eating after a ½-cup serving, says Grotto.
- Cranberry Supplements
Daily, according to the dosage on the bottle. "These are a viable option if you don't like the taste of cranberries," says Grotto, "but as a dietitian, I recommend you try to get your nutrients from food first."