Dried Cranberries Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Dried cranberries, annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Raw cranberries (fresh or frozen) are high in nutritional value and fiber while being low in carbohydrates and calories. Dried cranberries (often known as "Craisins," a brand name), however, can be quite different. Since cranberries are so tart, most dried versions have added sugar. Even if they are unsweetened, dried cranberries are higher in carbs, calories, and sugar than raw berries are—though they do still retain many of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in raw cranberries.

Dried Cranberries Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1/4 cup (40g) of dried, sweetened cranberries.

  • Calories: 123
  • Fat: 0.4g
  • Sodium: 2mg
  • Carbohydrates: 33g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugar: 29g
  • Protein: 0.1g

Carbs

Due to cranberries' very tart natural taste, most commercial cranberry products including sauces, juices, and dried berries for snacking contain added sugar. In addition, drying the berries changes their proportions, so even dried cranberries without added sweeteners are still high in sugar and carbs than their raw counterparts. For comparison, per 1/4 cup:

  • Unsweetened dried cranberries: 85 calories, 23g carbs, 20g sugar, 1.5g fiber
  • Raw cranberries: 11.5 calories, 3g carbs, 1.1g sugar, 0.9g fiber

Fat

Dried cranberries contain just a small amount of fat.

Protein

Dried cranberries have only a trace amount of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Fresh or dried, cranberries contain some vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant and is important in many critical body functions such as wound healing and protein metabolism. Cranberries also contain vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant, manganese, and vitamin K.

Health Benefits

While there is little research on the specific effects of dried cranberries, the berry's juice and its extracts have been studied and found to have certain beneficial properties.

Repairs Damaged Cells

Like other brightly-colored fruits and vegetables, cranberries contain antioxidant compounds that may have many benefits for human health. Antioxidants are known to repair damage caused to cells by free radicals in the body, which helps protect against chronic disease.

May Promote Urinary Tract Health

There has been a lot of research focused on how cranberry supplements and juice may help prevent urinary tract infections, but large scale reviews have not been able to confirm this association. A 2012 Cochrane review found that there was not enough evidence to support the use of cranberry juice for the prevention of UTIs.

But in 2020 the FDA made a decision to allow very limited claims (called "qualified claims") on certain cranberry dietary supplements and cranberry juice products about the potential for a reduced risk of recurrent urinary tract infections in healthy women. However, they noted that the evidence to support the claims was "limited and inconsistent" and any package claims need to state this.

If you are considering taking a cranberry supplement or drinking cranberry juice to prevent a urinary tract infection, speak to your healthcare provider before doing so to determine the best treatment for you.

Helps Treat Ulcers

The H. pylori bacteria can cause ulcers, gastritis, and some cancers. In one study with 200 patients, researchers found that adding cranberry supplements to the antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors commonly prescribed for this condition helped eradicate the bacteria.

Low in Oxalates

Fresh cranberries and cranberry juice can be a problem on a low-oxalate diet (used to prevent kidney stones). However, dried cranberries are acceptable.

Allergies

Allergic reactions to cranberry have not been reported, but allergy to almost any food is possible. If you suspect a food allergy, discuss your symptoms with your doctor to determine a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Adverse Effects

The main concern with dried cranberries is the amount of sugar they may add to your diet. Consuming too much sugar and sugar-sweetened foods may lead to weight gain, obesity, and metabolic conditions such as type 2 diabetes. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 10% of your calories per day from added sugars (the sugar in raw cranberries is naturally occurring, but sweeteners are often added to dried cranberries and other cranberry products).

As of January 1, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration requires manufacturers to list both "sugar" and "added sugar" on the nutrition facts label.

There is a perception that dried cranberries and other dried fruits can stick to the teeth and cause dental problems, but research has shown that eating dried fruits was comparable to eating fresh fruits

Varieties

Not all dried cranberry products contain added sugars. It's getting easier to find reduced-sugar or sugar-free dried cranberries, but check labels carefully. You may also find dried cranberries in trail mixes, granola, or cereal bars.

Storage and Food Safety

To keep dried cranberries from hardening and clumping, store in an airtight container in a cool, dark, dry place. They will last for 6 to 12 months. You can also freeze them for up to two years.

How to Prepare

Instead of buying dried cranberries, you can make them yourself at home.

Ingredients

  • 1 12-ounce bag fresh whole cranberries

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 200 degrees F, or use a food dehydrator if you have one.
  2. Put cranberries in a large skillet. Pick through to remove soft and/or brown ones.
  3. Heat on medium-high until cranberries pop, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir every minute or two. When all seem popped, turn off the burner and let them cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Squish them down with the back of a large spoon. Don't worry if it seems they are melding together. Let cool another 5 minutes or so.
  5. Cover baking sheet with three layers of paper towels and a piece of parchment paper.
  6. Spread cranberries on the parchment. They will mostly individuate again as they dry. If unpopped ones remain, squish them down now.
  7. Put in oven and turn heat down to 150 F.
  8. In 2 to 4 hours, replace parchment and flip paper towels over. (Optional, but it speeds up the process.)
  9. After 2 more hours, check for doneness. Total time depends on humidity and other factors (up to 8 hours total is not unusual). It also depends on whether you want to dry your cranberries to the point where they still have some give, or whether you like them crispier.
  10. Separate dried cranberries and store in a sealed container (zip-top bags work well).

Recipes

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  6. FDA Announces Qualified Health Claim for Certain Cranberry Products and Urinary Tract Infections. U.S.Food and Drug Administration. July 21, 2020

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