Cranberries are a common sight on most American tables during the Thanksgiving holiday. This small ruby-red berry is commonly served alongside our Thanksgiving dinners in the form of a beautifully bitter and sweet relish.
Outside of Thanksgiving we typically find cranberries baked into muffins, juiced, or candied. However, there is also a small proportion of people who like to eat cranberries raw.
This small number of people who eat cranberries raw accounts for approximately 5% of all cranberries sold. This small proportion leaves us wondering whether eating raw cranberries is safe.
If you find yourself wondering the same, you’re in the right place.
This article takes a look at whether it is safe to eat raw cranberries and whether their unique plant compounds that are known to boost general health still have the same effect.
Without any further ado, let’s find out, shall we!
Can We Eat Raw Cranberries?
Let’s get straight to the point. Yes, you can eat raw cranberries. Whether you want to is another story. We must admit the fact that only 5% of cranberries are eaten raw is quite surprising.
However, when you consider their raw taste it is understandable why most of us prefer them canned or baked.
Raw cranberries are known to have a rather unpleasant sour or bitter taste. It is this taste that discourages most people from eating cranberries raw.
When cranberries have been processed whether that be through drying or canning, they have a much more pleasant sweet taste, with a much more enjoyable tart flavor.
The main reason people choose to eat cranberries raw is the result of their supposed health-boosting benefits. We will touch on these later in this article.
While you may like the idea of eating raw cranberries, it is worth noting that there can still be some side effects that aren’t too pleasant.
These aren’t anywhere as serious as eating raw chicken, but before you grab a bag of cranberries and start popping them like candy, it’s a good idea to be aware of what you could experience.
Negative Side Effects Of Eating Raw Cranberries
Unlike other foods, medical institutions don’t specifically advise against eating cranberries raw, however, they do suggest taking precautions to ensure you don’t feel any discomfort or alter the effects of medications you may be taking.
People who are on blood-thinning medication such as warfarin are advised to first speak to a medical professional before eating too many raw cranberries.
This is because the fruit may impact how your liver breaks down the medications. This could result in you bruising or bleeding easier than you normally would.
It is worth noting that this could only occur if you eat an excessive amount of raw cranberries, but checking with your doctor first is always a good idea.
Raw cranberries are also quite high in oxalate. This is a naturally occurring compound believed to cause kidney stones if combined with calcium.
Though this isn’t conclusive, it is a good reason not to eat too many if you have a history of kidney stones.
Finally, although eating raw cranberries is safe, too much of this sour fruit can cause a pretty violent upset stomach.
If you press your raw cranberries into a juice, try to drink it in moderation. We recommend servings no bigger than 4 ounces.
The reason you may experience diarrhea and stomach cramps is because of the buildup of fructose, a type of sugar.
The Benefits Of Eating Raw Cranberries
Now you know the potential side effects of eating raw cranberries, let’s take a look at the benefits they bring to the party.
Studies have shown that this small, vibrant fruit is rich in antioxidants and compounds that have a range of bacteria blocking and anti-inflammatory benefits.
It is believed that regular consumption of raw cranberries whether they be blended or eaten whole promotes positive urinary tract health.
Research would also suggest that they promote good digestive and immune system health, potentially protecting the body from ulcers, degenerative diseases, stem cell damage, and cancers.
Of course, tucking into boatloads of raw cranberries doesn’t guarantee a perfectly clean bill of health, but it can definitely be argued that raw cranberries are much loved by the human body.
At this point in the article, we would also like to mention that these health benefits and potential side effects can also be seen when cranberries have been processed.
How You Should Eat Raw Cranberries
While it is perfectly safe to eat raw cranberries, to avoid any negative effects, there are a few things you can do.
Firstly, it is important to thoroughly clean your raw cranberries. This will remove any dirt or bacteria still clinging to the fruit.
To do this, wash the cranberries in your basin with cold water and a colander. Once this has been done, place the berries on a clean piece of kitchen towel to dry.
When the cranberries have dried, go through them carefully, removing any berries that are damaged or rotten.
The other thing you need to do in order to avoid an upset stomach is to not eat too many cranberries at once. Eat raw cranberries in small amounts no more than twice a day.
Any more than this and you could easily start feeling an upset tummy.
In terms of what you can make using your raw cranberries, why not try making a fresh fruit smoothie, baked muffin, or bitter cranberry juice.
Cranberries can be used for more than just making a sweet sauce we have alongside our Thanksgiving dinners. They can be used to make a fresh smoothie, eaten whole, or added to a healthy salad.
In this article, we have shown you that it is perfectly safe to eat cranberries raw. Though they have a sour, bitter taste that isn’t for everyone, it is believed they offer a good range of impressive health benefits.
If you plan on eating raw cranberries, you should always remember to eat them in moderation, especially if you want to juice them.
Excessive amounts of raw cranberries can cause upset stomachs or even interfere with medications.
Now you have all of this information at your fingertips, why not try some new raw cranberry recipes and see what you think of their bitter taste.