Give Thanks: Cranberries, Best of Super Foods

Of course, most of this is not new. According to Darren Lynch of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, cranberries have been used since at least the 17th century to treat blood disorders, stomach ailments, loss of appetite, scurvy and cancer. When the pilgrims first arrived in this country, they found that American Indians were using the berries to treat bladder and kidney ailments.

The pilgrims called the fruit "craneberry" because the stem and flower looked a little like the head, neck and beak of a crane.

So, with all this good stuff that cranberries do for us, is it possible to overdo it? Along with the pie and the turkey and the stuffing, can we overdose on cranberries?

According to Lynch, the cranberry is a "safe, well-tolerated herbal supplement that does not have significant drug interactions."

But that doesn't mean it isn't possible to get too much of a good thing. If you pig out on cranberry juice, scientists say, you may wind up with a stomachache and diarrhea. And its role in such things as fighting cancer is so poorly understood that much caution needs to be exercised.

But cranberries are still better than an overdose of gravy. Maybe not as tasty, but healthier.

Lee Dye is a former science writer for the Los Angeles Times. He now lives in Juneau, Alaska.

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