The name cranberry derives from "craneberry", first named by early European settlers in America who felt the expanding flower, stem, calyx, and petals resembled the neck, head, and bill of a crane. Another name used in northeastern Canada is mossberry. The traditional English name for Vaccinium oxycoccos, fenberry, originated from plants found growing in fen (marsh) lands. In 17th century New England cranberries were sometimes called "bearberries" as bears were often seen feeding on them.
In North America, Native Americans were the first to use cranberries as food. Native Americans used cranberries in a variety of foods, especially for pemmican, wound medicine and dye. Calling the red berries Sassamanash, natives may have introduced cranberries to starving English settlers in Massachusetts who incorporated the berries into traditional Thanksgiving feasts. American Revolutionary War veteran Henry Hall is credited as first to farm cranberries in the Cape Cod town of Dennis around 1816. In the 1820s cranberries were shipped to Europe. Cranberries became popular for wild harvesting in the Nordic countries and Russia. In Scotland, the berries were originally wild-harvested but with the loss of suitable habitat, the plants have become so scarce that this is no longer done. - History Of Cranberries
Antioxidant compounds in cranberries such as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC’s), anthocyanidin flavonoids, cyanidin, peonidin and quercetin may prevent cardiovascular disease by counteracting against cholesterol plaque formation in the heart and blood vessels. Further, these compounds help body lower LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL-good cholesterol levels in the blood.
Research studies shows that cranberry juice consumption offers protection against gram-negative bacterial infections such as E.coli in the urinary system by inhibiting bacterial attachment to the bladder and urethra.
Consumption of cranberries makes urine acidic. This, along with the bacterial anti-adhesion property of cranberry juice helps prevent formation of alkaline (calcium ammonium phosphate) stones in the urinary tract by working against proteus bacterial infections.
Further, the berries prevent plaque formation on the tooth surface by interfering with the ability of another gram-negative bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, to sticking on the surface. It thus helps prevent development of cavities in a way similar to the action in preventing urinary tract infections. - Nutrition & You
In some people, regular cranberry juice consumption for months can kill the H. pylori bacteria, which can cause stomach cancer and ulcers. - National Institute Of Health
Research on pigs with a genetic predisposition to atherosclerosis--narrow, hardened arteries that may lead to heart attack and stroke--found that those fed dried cranberries or juice every day had healthier, more flexible blood vessels. - Whole Food Supplements