The cranberry fruit belongs to the Ericaceae plant family, which consists of over 1,300 different plant species. Cranberries have been utilized for medicinal and dietary sources for centuries, and the first commercial cranberry farm was established in 1816 by Henry Hall in Massachusetts. Cranberry juice is a popular medium for consuming this fruit, and while the market offers a variety of cranberry juice brands, the best brand is one that uses fresh fruit and little additives.
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Unsweetened cranberry juice contains an array of minerals, vitamins and fatty acids. The USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory states cranberry juice has a concentration of nine minerals, which include calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc and phosphorus. Cranberry juice also contains 15 vitamins, which include vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, B12 and vitamin A. Other constituents in cranberry juice include protein, carbohydrates, fiber and natural sugars. The Cranberry Institute cites information from a study published in the November 2001 issue of the “Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry” in which researchers found cranberries contain more active anti-oxidants than 19 other fruit sources.
Pasteurization is the process of heating a liquid to high temperatures to kill bacteria and miscellaneous pathogens that could pose a serious health risk to consumers. While natural health proponents argue pasteurization can also kill vital nutrients and compounds, the best cranberry juice is one that has undergone a pasteurization process. It is uncommon for a nonpasteurized juice to be sold in the United States, as more than 98 percent of juices are pasteurized or heat treated. Review the label of a juice brand to ensure it has undergone a pasteurization process.
Cranberry Juice Cocktail
Cranberry juice cocktail is a mixture of cranberry and other fruit juices as well as sugar or artificial sweeteners. While cranberry juice cocktail is often sweeter than pure cranberry juice, this type of beverage only contains 26 to 33 percent pure cranberry juice, according to MedlinePlus. Because of the added sugar and lack of cranberry juice, cocktails may not be ideal for those looking to enhance their health.
Cranberry Health Benefits
Cranberry juice has been utilized for a wide variety of health ailments, yet modern medicine is undecided on many of its proposed health benefits. One of the most widely accepted medicinal uses of cranberry juice is for urinary tract infections. Initial research shows this beverage can help prevent UTIs in older or pregnant women; however, further research is required to determine its true value against treating and preventing UTIs. Proponents of cranberry juice claim it may help with benign prostatic hyperplasia, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, skin healing and pleurisy; however, there is not sufficient evidence to support these claims.