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Cranberries are a healthy mix of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. All these put together will help in keeping the body’s free radicals in check and also treat several ailments. Cranberries are highly effective in fighting infections during pregnancy. However, consuming cranberries during pregnancy has its share of cons as well. They should be avoided by pregnant women who have diabetes, since the high sugar content in the berries can elevate blood sugar levels, causing more harm than good. Moreover, consuming too many berries may cause diarrhoea, dizziness, fatigue, headache, and frequent urination, which may add to the pregnant woman’s physical discomfort.
Calorie Count and Nutritional Value of Cranberries
Cranberries are sour berries and are usually consumed in the form of juice with added sweeteners, or by blending it with other fruit juices.
100 grams of raw cranberries consist of 46 calories, about 90% water, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of sugar (simple sugar – sucrose, glucose, and fructose), 5 grams of fibre, and a very nominal amount of protein, fat, omega 3, and omega 6.
Benefits of Consuming Cranberries and Cranberry Juice During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time when the body requires a lot of nutrition in the form of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, the daily intake of various types of fruits helps in the healthy growth of the foetus and also in treating ailments or infections in a pregnant woman. Cranberry is one such fruit – it has several benefits which, when consumed during pregnancy, can help keep many health problems at bay.
Listed below are some of the benefits of consuming cranberries during pregnancy.
1. Helps Treat Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is the leading cause of several diseases like heart diseases, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, allergies, etc. Cranberries are said to contain the highest amount of antioxidants required to protect the cells in our body from any damage caused by free radicals. These antioxidants naturally help in fighting inflammation.
2. Improves Immunity
Women often have low immunity levels during pregnancy and after delivery. Cranberries are high in proanthocyanidins, which help the body keep the immunity level high. Moreover, cranberries can stop bacteria from accumulating and growing in the gut lining. This helps the immune-boosting bacteria to grow and defend the body against all types of illnesses and diseases.
3. Prevents UTIs
The uterus grows and presses against the bladder during pregnancy, blocking the drainage of urine from the bladder. This causes an infection in the urinary tract. Specific antioxidants present in cranberries prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract, thereby minimising the chances of an infection.
4. Beneficial for Oral Hygiene
Quite a few women experience tooth problems during their pregnancy. Eating a handful of cranberries or drinking a glass (250 ml) of cranberry juice a day can help in preventing tooth decay, plaque formation, and cavities.
5. Prevents Constipation
Constipation is common during pregnancy. Cranberries, which are said to be high in fibre, help in preventing it.
6. Hydrates the Body
It is necessary to keep the body hydrated, especially when one is pregnant. Fresh cranberries are made up of 90% water. Therefore, regular intake of cranberries helps keep the body hydrated.
7. Prevents Water Retention (Oedema)
Oedema is very common during pregnancy. Cranberry juice is a natural diuretic, so the intake of cranberry juice during pregnancy on a regular basis can prevent or cure water retention.
A study conducted in 2013 featuring Norwegian pregnant women concluded that eating cranberries during pregnancy did not pose a risk to the developing foetus – there were no risks associated between eating cranberries and stillbirths, low birth weight, preterm birth, and neonatal death among other things. It was also concluded that considering the data, consuming cranberries is safe during pregnancy.
Risks Associated With Cranberry Consumption During Pregnancy
Cranberries are said to do wonders when consumed during pregnancy. It prevents a lot of pregnancy-related complications. However, consuming it is also said to be associated with a lot of risks. Just as too much of anything is terrible, too much cranberry juice or too many cranberries are seen to do more harm than good to pregnant women. Therefore, caution should be practised while consuming cranberries during pregnancy.
- Too much of cranberry or the juice can cause loose motions or diarrhoea.
- Intake of too many concentrated cranberry tablets may increase the oxalic acid in the urine, causing kidney stones.
- Pregnant women suffering from chronic liver problems, gastritis, or stomach ulcers should avoid taking cranberries in any form.
Cranberry Recipes for Pregnant Women
Cranberries, being sour, are a treat to the taste buds during the pregnancy when most women suffer from nausea. Listed below are a few recipes which can be made from these fruits.
1. Cranberry Pickle
The pickle is a mix of cranberries, mustard oil, and Indian spices. It is easy to make and tastes excellent with puffed rice, parathas, or a bowl of hot rice and dal.
- Cranberries: 500 gms
- Mustard oil: 500 ml
- Mustard seeds: 2 tbsps
- Jeera seeds: 5 tbsps
- Dhania seeds: 4 tbsps
- Fenugreek seeds: 1 tbsp
- Chilli powder: 2 tbsp (or more if you want it to be spicier)
- Salt: to taste
- Wash the cranberries and dry them thoroughly.
- Cut all the berries in equal halves.
- Mix them with chilli powder and salt. Leave them out in the sun after covering them with a muslin cloth and occasionally toss them.
- Keep this mix in the sun for 5 – 7 days until the berries look shrivelled and dry.
- Dry roast all the seeds and grind them roughly to make masala.
- In a glass jar, mix the dried cranberries, mustard oil, and the ground masala.
- Give the jar a good shake, and consume.
2. Cranberry Juice
Is cranberry juice good for pregnancy? Yes, in moderate amounts. It prevents many ailments and diseases associated with pregnancy.
- Sugar syrup or honey (optional)
- In a large pan, add water and cranberries. Bring the water to a boil.
- Reduce the flame and cook until the berries burst open and become soft.
- Strain the juice using a filter or a muslin cloth.
- You can add in sugar syrup or honey if you find the juice too sour.
- You can also add in the juice of another fruit if you wish.
3. Cranberry Jam
This is one of the easiest and tastiest recipes that can be made using cranberries.
- Fresh cranberries: 250 gms
- Water: 1 cup
- Sugar: 1 cup
- Jaggery: 2 cups
- Vinegar: ½ cup
- Cardamom: ½ tsp.
- Wash the cranberries and boil them in water until the skin comes off.
- Puree the half-cooked cranberries.
- Take a pan and add the sugar, jaggery, vinegar, cardamom powder, and bring it to boil.
- Add the puree and cook until you get a jam-like consistency.
Cranberries can be termed as a wonder berry since they are a cure for the many ailments that pop up when the body is weak, tender, and low on immunity during pregnancy. However, having too much of the berry can have its downsides. Therefore, taking precautions and consulting a doctor before including it in your daily diet is advisable.
Resources and References: WebMD