Closely related to blueberries, cranberries are just one fruit of about 150 species in the Vaccinium family. Grown throughout North America, cranberry is a small, evergreen shrub that produces edible red fruits. The cranberry bush has upright branches with leaves that are speckled underneath by tiny dots. Pink flowers blossom and red-black fruits appear during the early summer months.
Cranberries are expansively cultivated in irrigated bogs in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Washington, and Oregon. Cranberry has a long history of use among Native American Indian tribes, primarily for urinary health, and today cranberries are still mostly known for supporting urinary and bladder health in both men and women.**
The main active constituents of cranberries are known as proanthocyanidins (PACs) and are believed to provide many of the benefits associated with cranberries. The proanthocyanidins are also responsible for providing the cranberries with their vibrant red color. Adding cranberry supplements to your regimen can be an excellent way to reap the benefits of this super fruit, especially if you do not enjoy the fruit's tart taste, or if you want to avoid the extra sugar and calories of whole cranberries or cranberry juice.**
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