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 products, the best cranberry juice brand is one that uses fresh fruit and little additives.
The healthiest cranberry juice is one made from 100 percent juice, preferably all cranberries, without any added sugar or additives.
Healthiest Cranberry Juice
Unsweetened cranberry juice contains an array of minerals, vitamins and fatty acids. Although it is unsweetened, it is not sugar free cranberry juice. The USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory states cranberry juice has a concentration of seven minerals, which include calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, iron, zinc and phosphorus. Cranberry juice also contains 15 vitamins, which include thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and vitamins C, B6, B12, E, K and vitamin A. Other constituents in cranberry juice include protein, carbohydrates, fiber and natural sugars. One cup of unsweetened cranberry juice has 116 calories, and 30 grams of naturally-occurring sugar.
Pasteurization and Bacteria
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. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, most juices sold in the United States are pasteurized or heat treated to remove harmful bacteria. Review the label of cranberry juice brands to ensure it has undergone a pasteurization process before consuming.
Cranberry Juice Cocktail
Cranberry juice cocktail is a mixture of cranberry and other fruit juices, as well as sugar or artificial sweeteners. According to the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory, one cup of cranberry juice cocktail has 137 calories and 30 grams of sugar. While cranberry juice cocktail is often sweeter than pure cranberry juice, this type of beverage only contains 27 percent pure cranberry juice, according to HealthLine. Because of the added sugar and lack of cranberry juice, cocktails may not be ideal for those looking to enhance their health.
Potential 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. However, according to a study published in 2016 by "The Journal of the American Medical Association," cranberry juice is not effective for treating or preventing urinary tract infections.
Proponents of cranberry juice suggest that it might have a number of other health benefits, including improved oral hygiene, decreased gastrointestinal infections and improved cardiovascular health. However, according to a review performed in 2014 by the Cranberry Institute, research on the impact of cranberry juice on human health is limited, and results are conflicting.
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Cranberry Juice, Unsweetened; Cranberry Juice Cocktail, Bottled
- Just-Food: USA: FDA Juice Safety Rule ‘Underscores Importance of Pasteurization as a Food Safety Tool' says NFPA
- The Journal of the American Medical Association: Cranberry for Prevention of Urinary Tract Infection? Time to Move On
- HealthLine: Cranberry Study Shows Flaws in Research
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Talking About Juice Safety: What You Need to Know
- The Cranberry Institute: Cranberry and Human Health Research Review
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Cranberry Juice Cocktail