Let’s Give Thanks for Cranberries

Thanksgiving celebrations are held at harvest times in many places around the world, most notably in the United States and Canada.  Canadians celebrate on the second Monday in October, while Americans celebrate on the fourth Thursday in November.  One staple of the Thanksgiving feast is the cranberry, one of the only fruits indigenous to North America.

For years, cranberries were consumed only in North America and only on Thanksgiving.  In recent years, however, cranberries have been shown to be effective against urinary tract infections (UTIs).  Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins that prevent infectious bacteria from adhering to the bladder lining.  The fruit can also help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease.  As a result, cranberries are now popular all over the world.

Natural cranberries are very tart and astringent, so most commercial cranberry products contain high levels of sugar or artificial sweeteners.  Cranberry supplements are also sold in pill form, but they are susceptible to heat and oxidization and have a short shelf life.

Scientists in the U.S. developed a method for separating the active, healthy bioflavonoids in cranberries from the other extraneous and high-caloric compounds.  They also investigated other food substrates for their capacity to bind to and retain these bioflavonoids.  The researchers hope to develop new consumer food products that can emulate the anti-UTI and antimicrobial benefits of cranberries.

The scientists used an Agilent high-performance liquid chromatograph with a fluorescence detector and photodiode array detector to conduct their separations and analyses.

We wish everyone a safe and healthy Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday!

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