Is Cranberry Sauce Paleo?

Here’s my dilemma.  My mom claims we all need to eat cranberry sauce because it’s ‘good for us’; specifically, because her doc told  her ages ago it was helpful to drink cranberry juice to support bladder health, she’s always on a cranberry trip during the holidays. (It’s actually really embarrassing when she feels the need to discuss it at the dinner table; but that’s another topic!).  Anyway, what is the deal? Are cranberries really a healthy thing to eat and if so, is the canned sauce my mom serves Paleo?  


Sara, Boston

First of all, yes, cranberries, fresh cranberries, that is, are Paleo.  A recent post on MSN reviewed some of their most significant health benefits:

  • Cranberries are full of antioxidants, which protects cells from damage by unstable molecules called free radicals.
  • Drinking cranberry juice can block urinary infections by binding to bacteria so they can’t adhere to cell walls. While women often drink unsweetened cranberry juice to treat an infection, there’s no hard evidence that works.
  • A compound discovered in cranberries, proanthocyanidine, prevents plaque formation on teeth.
  • In some people, regular cranberry consumption for months can kill the H. pylori bacteria, which can cause stomach cancer and ulcers.
  • Cranberries may prevent tumors from growing rapidly or starting in the first place.
So, your mom is right; partly right!  The canned cranberry sauce, however, is not so healthy.  More often than not, it contains corn syrup, and sometimes other unfavorable stabilizers.
It’s easy enough to make your own by boiling fresh cranberries and adding some orange essence;  check the recipe in The Paleo Diet Cookbook for more details!