For 10 months, you hardly see or hear of cranberries. And then for eight weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas they make their annual appearance. But cranberries can do a lot more than liven up the holiday dinner table. Science reveals just how healthy they can be.

A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry showed that cranberries have more antioxidant phenols than 19 common fruits. Cranberries prevent the oxidation of cholesterol and they also raise good cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. There is also solid evidence they protect against cancer and they are well known for their role in the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections.

Almost all prepared cranberry products contain high fructose corn syrup and should be avoided. The best way to use cranberries is to cook fresh or frozen berries. Put them in a small saucepan, cover with a bit of fruit juice and water and boil them until they pop. Then add erythritol or stevia to sweeten. You can also find unsweetened cranberry juice at the health food store, which can also be sweetened with a dash of stevia.