What Does Cranberry Juice Do for Your Body?

You can count on cranberry juice to provide antioxidant benefits for your body because it's a rich source of vitamins C and E. It also contains antioxidant compounds called flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Research suggests, but has not yet proven, that the flavonoids in cranberry juice may help combat infections and boost good cholesterol.

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Antioxidant Protection

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Unsweetened cranberry juice is a rich source of two antioxidants: vitamins C and E. One cup of the juice provides 26 percent of your recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C and 20 percent of vitamin E. Both of these nutrients neutralize free radicals before they can damage healthy cells. The difference between them is that vitamin C protects cells in watery environments, while vitamin E works as an antioxidant for essential fats throughout your body. Be aware that many brands mix cranberry juice with other types of fruit juices. While these products are 100 percent pure fruit juice, the amount of cranberry juice you'll get varies depending on the brand and this affects the amount of nutrients and flavonoids.

Urinary Tract Infections

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Bacteria are the most common cause of urinary tract infections, or UTIs, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Plant-based substances in cranberry juice -- flavonoids called proanthocyanidins -- prevent bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall, so urine flushes them out before they cause an infection More research is needed to verify the effectiveness of cranberry juice for preventing urinary tract infections, but after reviewing 10 studies, researchers concluded that cranberry juice, cranberry-lingonberry juice and cranberry tablets all decreased the number of UTIs in women with recurrent infections, according to their report published in the January 2008 issue of the "Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews."

Fight Other Infections

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Cranberry juice shows some promise for fighting infections other than urinary tract infections. In laboratory studies conducted at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2010, researchers discovered that cranberry juice blocked the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus from forming an infection. Cranberry juice may also prevent another type of bacterium -- Helicobacter pylori -- from adhering to cells in the stomach, where it causes ulcers, according to research published in the June 2007 issue of "Molecular Nutrition and Food Research."

Improve Cholesterol Profile

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Increasing your intake of cranberry juice might raise your levels of good, HDL cholesterol. High density lipoproteins, or HDLs, are known as good cholesterol because they transport cholesterol to the liver, where it's broken down into waste products and eliminated from your body. Researchers at Laval University in Canada gave a small group of obese men daily doses of cranberry juice. They started drinking a 4-ounce serving daily for four weeks, then increased the amount to 8 ounces. After four weeks of daily 8-ounce servings, the men experienced increases in HDL cholesterol levels, according to the August 2006 issue of the "British Journal of Nutrition."

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