Small, bright red cranberries are popular on the holiday table or in tart glasses of juice enjoyed throughout the year. But despite their appearance, there are few cranberry juice side effects and consuming them should not change the color of your urine.
Unlike beets, cranberries do not stain or discolor your urine.
Urine Color Chart
According to Harvard Health Publishing, urine may appear to be yellow, red or brown. A "normal" urine color is pale yellow; if your urine is darker yellow, it may mean you're dehydrated.
Red urine caused by blood in the urine can vary from light pink to very dark red. Harvard Health Publishing notes that strenuous exercise can also result in urine turning red. A harmless cause known as beeturia, which can occur after eating beets, may also turn urine red. Currently there is no condition known as "cranberry juice pee" that would affect the color of urine after drinking cranberry juice or consuming cranberries.
Brown urine and orange urine may occur when there is a liver condition or can be due to certain medications. Other colors that can appear in urine include blue — likely because of an inherited condition — and green, due to medications or a urinary tract or bacterial infection that has entered the bloodstream.
There has been no scientific evidence that shows a changed cranberry juice urine color occurs when you consume cranberry juice, unlike when you eat beets or drink beet juice. Cranberry juice is often touted as helping with urinary tract infections, although there is as of yet no conclusive scientific evidence that it is effective.
An article published by the Cleveland Clinic, for example, argues that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements to cure a UTI probably doesn't help.
Read more: Can Vitamins Change the Color of Your Urine?
Cranberry Heath Benefits
Cranberry, a native evergreen shrub, grows throughout North America and produces red berries that are a staple on the Thanksgiving table in the form of sauce. Cranberry juice is widely available in stores and is usually sweetened with added sugar or another fruit juice such as apple or grape.
Pure, or unsweetened, cranberry juice in particular is often used as a dietary supplement to treat or prevent urinary tract infections, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Cranberries or the leaves from the cranberry plant have been used in traditional medicine to treat bladder, stomach and liver disorders, wounds and diabetes. Few cranberry juice side effects have been reported.
Cranberries have other beneficial attributes. A study published in the May 2016 issue of the USDA's AgResearch Magazine showed that drinking two 8-ounce glasses of cranberry juice a day lowered several risk factors for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke.
Pure cranberry juice is also nutritionally beneficial. The USDA shows that unsweetened cranberry juice contains the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, iron and zinc and is a good source of 15 essential vitamins, including vitamins C, B6, B12, E, K and A as well as thiamine, niacin and riboflavin.
A 1-cup serving of unsweetened cranberry juice contains 116 calories, almost a gram of protein and 30 grams of carbohydrates, according to the USDA. Although it is unsweetened, pure cranberry juice does contain 30 grams of naturally occurring sugar. Cranberry supplements are also available in the form of cranberry pills, extracts, powder and capsules.
Drinking pure cranberry juice is generally considered to be safe, the NCCIH suggests, although drinking it in large amounts could cause an upset stomach and may over time increase the risk of kidney stones. Large doses of cranberry may alter levels of warfarin, an anticoagulant (blood thinner).
If you are suffering from a urinary tract infection, it's best to consult with your doctor regarding treatment, although drinking pure cranberry juice will give you additional nutritional benefits unrelated to the infection.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Cranberry"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Red, Brown, Green: Urine Colors and What They Might Mean"
- USDA AgResearch Magazine: "Can Cranberry Juice Boost Heart Health?"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Cranberry Juice, Unsweetened"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Can Cranberry Juice Stop Your UTI?"