After my final Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, I wondered why we eat cranberries during Thanksgiving — and at Christmas for some.

Well, the Michigan-grown fruit hits its prime season with consumers in November. According to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, American Indians used cranberries as a food source to dye fabric and as a medicine. The cranberry is one of only three commercially produced fruits that are native to North America (the other two are blueberries and Concord grapes).

Cranberries can actually be found from polar regions to the tropics in both hemispheres.

Due to the importance of cranberries in the 1500s and their abundance, it is believed that the pilgrims and the American Indians would have eaten them at the first Thanksgiving. And, contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not actually grow in water. They grow on a low-growing perennial vines in which the vine can grow up to 6 feet in length and can live over 100 years.

According to the Cranberry Institute, many health professionals recommend cranberries to support urinary health. They have a tart flavor, which can also complement the sweetness of some foods. Consumers are obsessed with eating healthy and while cranberries will not extend one’s life span, in my view, it’s good to eat healthy and adding cranberries to their list of healthy foods might be a good idea.

Now that I know a little more about cranberries, I’ll not wait until Thanksgiving and Christmas to have cranberry sauce on my holiday table, but make it an addition to any healthy meal throughout the year!     

Kathleen Chamis

Ashland

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