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The Ultimate Holiday Health Food

What can be dished up tart or sweet and melds with turkey and trail mix as easily as bread and sauces? Cranberries. And they're so good for you, why limit them to holiday fare?

Here are five reasons to eat them year-round:

1. They're antioxidant all-stars. Cranberries have more of these disease-fighters than do apples, red grapes, strawberries, oranges, bananas, pears, grapefruit, pineapples, and peaches! And the antioxidant roster includes powerful resveratrol, the heart protector in red wine, which is now being tested against breast, skin, prostate, and liver cancer.

2. They keep your ticker . . . well . . . ticking. Cranberries pack a triple whammy: They're chock-full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and anticlotting agents, a combo that helps prevent fats and cholesterol from sticking to artery walls and seems to lower bad LDL cholesterol and boost good HDL cholesterol.

3. They protect your pearly whites. Compounds in cranberry juice appear to reduce decay-causing mouth bacteria and dissolve clusters of unhealthy germs. Just be sure to buy sugar-free juice, or rinse well with water afterward (do the same with any sweetened drink).

4. They ward off ulcers and upset tummies. Cranberry compounds and bad bacteria loathe each other, which is a good thing. Scientists suspect that the berries keep ulcer-causing H. pylori bugs from hanging around the stomach and flush other harmful bacteria out of your digestive system.