Cranberry is rich in antioxidants, particularly proanthocyanidins, which are responsible for its vibrant color. Antioxidants conquer free radicals, which are particles that damage DNA and may contribute to heart disease, cancer and other conditions. You can get cranberries in juice as well as in concentrate forms. Because pure cranberry juice has a very tart flavor, many juices contain a mixture of cranberries, sweeteners and vitamin C. Hence, aim for a brand that contains a minimal amount of added sugar.
Prevents Urinary Tract Infections
Several studies suggest that cranberry helps stave off urinary tract infections, especially for women who have a history of recurrent infections, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In one study, cranberry juice reduced the number of potentially harmful bacteria in the bladder compared to placebo in older women. A study published in the February 1998 issue of "Journal of Urology" discovered that cranberry juice changes the structure of E. coli -- the culprit behind most urinary tract infections -- and prevents the bacteria from attaching to urinary tract cells.
Boosts Heart Health
A pilot study unveiled at the 2003 American Chemical Society meeting reported consumption of cranberry juice increases high-density lipoprotein -- the good cholesterol -- which supports heart health. According to the Cranberry Institute, cranberries contain high concentrations of flavonoids, which can help prevent heart disease and promote circulation. In addition, the phenols in cranberries may help prevent the formation of blood clots that cause strokes.
Promotes Digestive Health
Cranberry juice can help prevent harmful bacteria from adhering to the stomach wall. This anti-adhesion activity of the juice is due to the antioxidant proanthocyanidin. A May 2008 study published in "Nutrition" reported cranberry juice curbed growth of a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, the main cause of stomach ulcers and a risk factor for gastric cancer. Cranberry juice also helps maintain the healthy balance of beneficial bacteria. The "Journal of the American Dental Association" reports that in the mouth, cranberry shows preliminary promise in helping prevent periodontal disease by preventing oral bacteria from sticking to teeth through the same anti-adhesion mechanism that promotes urinary tract health.
Helps Fight Cancer
A study published in the journal “Planta Medica” in June 1996 showed that cranberries exhibit anti-cancer properties. In addition, "The Journal of Nutrition" reports that phytochemicals found in cranberry fruit may help prevent the development of prostate, lung, breast, colon and other tumors. The Cranberry Institute states that although the results of these studies are preliminary, compounds in cranberries may prove to be beneficial in fighting cancer.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Cranberry
- Cranberry Institute: Cranberry Health Research Summary
- Cranberry Institute: New Study Links Cranberry Juice to Heart Health
- Cranberry Institute: Cranberry Health News
- Nutrition: Modulation of Helicobacter pylori Colonization With Cranberry Juice and Lactobacillus johnsonii La1 in Children
- Planta Medica: In Vitro Anticancer Activity of Fruit Extracts From Vaccinium Species
- The Journal of Nutrition: Cranberry and Its Phytochemicals: A Review of In Vitro Anticancer Studies
- Cranberry Institute: Rediscover Cranberries!