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Health Benefits of cranberry Juice (evidence Based)

What are cranberries and where do they come from?

Cranberries are round, dark red beauties that grow in North America, and are packed with health benefits.

You can eat them fresh or drink as pure juice, but you can also make jams, spreads and dips. Whatever way you choose, you will still have access the same health benefits. So, let’s take a look at the health and nutrition of cranberries and cranberry juice.

We will firstly start by going over the vitamins and minerals content of cranberries.

Vitamins and minerals found in cranberries

Cranberries are packed with antioxidant vitamins and minerals.

Vitamin A

This is a fat-soluble vitamin that maintains mucous membranes to protect respiratory tract, healthy skin as well as vision.

Vitamin C

This is an antioxidant vitamin that not only scavenges for free radical (toxins) but also supports the formation of collagen. Collagen is a protein used in the structure of connective tissues and bones. For example, ligaments and tendons.

Calcium

This is a mineral that’s required for the formation and maintenance of strength and density of bones and teeth.

Iron

Iron is a micro-mineral that enhances oxygen distribution throughout the body. In addition, Iron also keeps immune system healthy.

The health benefits of Cranberries and Cranberry juice

1.  Prevents Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

Cranberry juice contains 4 anti-bacterial compounds; Quinic, Malic, Shikimic and Citric acid which collaborate together to remove bacteria from our bladder.

There was a study done by Jensen et al (2017) which examined the effects of cranberry juice on Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). The results showed a significant reduction in bladder bacteria. Conclusively, the study found it was those 4 anti-bacterial compounds that reduced the UTI.

Another study conducted by Wann et al (2016) found that cranberry juice greatly reduced the risks of contracting UTI in the first place. The participants were boys who’ve had UTI’s numerous times before. After 6months of drinking cranberry juice, the risks of contracting a UTI have decreased greatly.

With this being said, more studies should be done on this but so far, the results are promising.

2. May strengthen teeth and improve oral hygiene

We mentioned previously that cranberry juice contains calcium. This mineral protects our bones and teeth from wear and tear. Cranberry juice seems to create a protective layer against bacteria that cause cavities (university of Rochester medical research, 2005).

3. Improves Heart Health

Cranberry juice contains polyphenols which are said to keep heart healthy by not only providing antioxidants within our blood but also reducing bad cholesterol (LDL). In addition, cranberries contain phytonutrients which prevent inflammation. This is important because inflammation is one of the leading causes of heart disease due to the damaging effect on arteries.

There was a study done by Basu et al (2011) which looked into the effects of cranberry juice on women with metabolic syndrome. The study reported that women who drank cranberry juice had more antioxidants circulating in their blood as well as their LDL cholesterol was reduced.

On top of this, there was a more recent study done by Chew et al (2019) found that drinking cranberry juice reduced inflammation as well as increased HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Overall, the risks of cardiovascular diseases were reduced significantly.

4. Supports a healthy digestive system

Cranberries contain various bioactive components which inhibit the accumulation of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in stomach. H pylori are germs that enjoy living and accumulating in the digestive tract. After many years of accumulation, they can cause stomach ulcers which may later lead to stomach cancer.

A study done by Zhao et al (2018) found that cranberries inhibited the build up of H. Pylori as well as reduced and prevented intestine inflammation. Another study done by Seyyedmajidi et al (2016) reported the same effects of cranberry juice. Although the results are very promising, we would say more research is required before jumping to conclusions.

5. May reduce post-menopausal health risks

After menopause, women are at a higher risk of contracting a heart disease compared to other adults of similar age. There was a study done on rats who had their ovaries removed. It was found that cranberry juice reduced overall total cholesterol (Yung et al, 2013). This is a fairly small study, and also conducted on rats. Therefore, more studies should be done on women post-menopause

6. May prevent kidney stones

Cranberry juice can reduce the risks of formation of kidney stones by affecting 3 key urinary factors (McHarg et al, 2003).

Firstly, it can decrease the oxalate and phosphate excretion.

  • Oxalate is a natural by-product that normally leaves your body through urine. However, if it builds up in your urinary tract, it can collaborate with calcium to form kidney stones
  • Phosphate is similar to oxalate. It gets excreted via urine but if it builds up or if there is an imbalance between phosphate, magnesium and calcium, kidney stones may be formed.

Cranberry juice may also increase citrate excretion. Citrate helps to regulate the amount of circulating calcium in the urine consequently reducing the risk of kidney stones (McHarg et al, 2003).

7. Reduces the risk of liver diseases

A study done by Gilsan et al (2016) found that cranberry juice reduced the accumulation of liver fat and found to reduce oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Free radicals are toxins that we inhale. For example, petrol fumes.

Side effects of Cranberry Juice

Normal servings of cranberry juice are safe, but they may cause:

  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhoea
  • Rise blood sugar levels

However, cranberry juice may also interact with certain medications (Biopharm, 2013):

  • cyclosporine
  • flurbiprofen
  • diclofenac
  • amoxicillin
  • cefaclor
  • midazolam
  • tizanidine

If you wish to regularly consume cranberry juice but you take any of the medications above, we would suggest consulting your doctor or GP.

Conclusion.

In conclusion, cranberry juice has some impressive health benefit properties. We would recommend more studies to be done to truly reach a conclusion but at this moment, the studies are showing promising effects as discussed above.

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References

Basu, A., Betts, N., Ortiz, J., Simmons, B., Wu, M. and Lyons, T. (2019). Low-energy cranberry juice decreases lipid oxidation and increases plasma antioxidant capacity in women with metabolic syndrome. [online] Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S027153171100025X [Accessed 30 Nov. 2019].

Chew, B., Mathison, B., Kimble, L., Mckay, D., Kaspar, K., Khoo, C., Chen, C. and Bloomberg, J. (2019). Chronic consumption of a low calorie, high polyphenol cranberry beverage attenuates inflammation and improves glucoregulation and HDL cholesterol in healthy overweight humans: a randomized controlled trial.

58(3). Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00394-018-1643-z [Accessed 30 Nov. 2019].

Give Thanks for the Cranberry, Say Dental Researchers. (2005). [online] Available at: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/947/give-thanks-for-the-cranberry-say-dental-researchers.aspx [Accessed 30 Nov. 2019].

Jensen, H., Struve, C., Christensen, S. and Krogfelt, K. (2017). Cranberry Juice and Combinations of Its Organic Acids Are Effective against Experimental Urinary Tract Infection. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28421045 [Accessed 30 Nov. 2019].

Vafaeimanesh, J., Seyyedmajidi, M., Ahmadi, A., Hajiebrahimi, S., Seyedmajidi, S., Rajabikashani, M. and Firoozabadi, M. (2019). Addition of cranberry to proton pump inhibitor-based triple therapy for Helicobacter pylori eradication.

Available at: http://www.jrpp.net/article.asp?issn=2319-9644;year=2016;volume=5;issue=4;spage=248;epage=251;aulast=Seyyedmajidi [Accessed 30 Nov. 2019].

Wann, K., Liu, C., Lee, W., Ko, m. and Huang, C. (2016). Cranberries for Preventing Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in Uncircumcised Boys. [online] 22(6). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27866177 [Accessed 30 Nov. 2019].

Wann, K., Liu, C., Lee, W., Ko, m. and Huang, C. (2016). Cranberries for Preventing Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in Uncircumcised Boys. [online] 22(6). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27866177 [Accessed 30 Nov. 2019].

Zhao, S., Liu, H. and Gu, l. (2018). American cranberries and health benefits – an evolving story of 25 years. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29315597 [Accessed 30 Nov. 2019].

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