Cranberries, just like blueberries, are small, round, and red colored fruits which have a very strong and sour taste. These fruits are native to North America, however, they are also available across many stores and online platforms, mostly in the form of juices. This exotic fruit has gained prominence due to its powerful medicinal properties as it is rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which makes it a healthy fruit. It is also available in dried form, powders, and supplements. Cranberries are widely known for their role against urinary tract infections. Here are a few reasons why you should be having cranberries more often than not.
Health Benefits Of Cranberries
The fruit is enriched with a wide category of health-promoting phytonutrients and antioxidants such as phenolic acids, proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, flavonoids, and triterpenoids. It is also a rich source of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, C and E, oxalic acids, and carbohydrates, which make it healthy in nature. You must include these in your diet because cranberries can:
1. Prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
Urinary tract infections (UTI) are one of the most common bacterial infections in women. It mostly occurs when E.coli, a bacteria present in the intestine, attaches itself to the wall of the bladder and urinary tract causing the bacteria to grow and spread infection.
Cranberries contain A-type proanthocyanidins which prevent bacteria from attaching to the wall of the bladder and thus, can prevent you from UTI. The antioxidant properties are known to flush toxins from the body thereby lowering the risk of infections. Several studies[1,2] have reported that drinking cranberry juice can reduce the risk of UTI in women as well as children. Moreover, it can also prevent recurrent UTI in women.
But remember that cranberries are effective only in lowering your risk of UTI and not to treat an infection. Hence, if you suspect or suffer from UTI, consult your doctor to treat the condition.
2. Promote Heart Health
The flavonoids present in cranberries confer antioxidant property to the fruit and has been found to lower the risk of heart diseases. These phytonutrients can delay and suppress the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and also stimulate the blood platelets thereby promoting heart health. It is also found to decrease the stiffness of blood vessels in people with heart disease and lower the risk of inflammation of the blood vessels.
Studies have reported that drinking two cups of cranberry juice per day can significantly reduce lipid oxidation and increase plasma antioxidant capacity in women with metabolic syndrome such as obesity, and diabetes. Cranberry supplements were found to reduce LDL cholesterol level, total cholesterol level, and total cholesterol: HDL cholesterol ratio in people with type 2 diabetes. So people who are at a high risk of heart disease should include cranberry juice in their diet as it can help keep their heart healthy and prevent heart disease.
3. Prevent Oral Decay
A lot has been said about the role of cranberries in urinary tract infection and other systemic diseases, but little is known about its beneficial effect on oral health. Cranberry is a rich source of phytonutrients which can prevent the harmful bacteria from clinging to the tooth, thereby preventing dental cavities. Moreover, it also inhibits the production of organic acids and the formation of biofilms by cariogenic bacteria (bacteria causing tooth decay). The polyphenols may reduce the inflammatory response and the production and activity of proteolytic enzymes which can increase the risk of periodontitis (inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissues).
Hence, including cranberry juice can not only help to prevent oral decay and dental caries but also lowers the risk of oral diseases. Regular consumption of cranberries can disrupt the pathogenic mechanism of dental caries and promote dental health.
4. Promote Gut Health
The role of gut microbiota in nutrition and health is underestimated. These microbes not only influence the bioavailability of nutrients and metabolism of food components but can also affect the brain and immune functions. Hence, it is important to ensure proper gut health and maintain the integrity of the gut bacteria. And cranberries can help you to do so naturally.
Cranberry contains phytonutrients such as proanthocyanidins, flavonols, and hydroxycinnamic acids, which exert antimicrobial activity. These compounds can prevent bacterial adhesion and coaggregation and also reduce inflammation thus helping to maintain gut health. It also modulates the function of the gut bacteria and lowers the risk of digestive woes.
5. Reduce Cancer Risk
Cranberries are loaded with bioactive compounds which offers a wide range of health benefits right from improving the immune function and decreasing the risk of infections to reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease as well as cancer. Several studies have reported the inhibitory action of these fruits on cancers of the esophagus, stomach, colon, bladder, prostate, and lymphoma. This is achieved through induction of cellular death, reduction of cellular proliferation and modification of cytokine (a type of immune cell) pathways.
Cranberries are a rich source of antioxidants that are anti-cancerous in nature thereby reducing the risk of cancer and cancer mortality. These fruits have been found to prevent the rapid growth of tumors. So drinking cranberry juice on a regular basis is not a bad idea!
So, go ahead and add these amazing fruits to your daily fruit bowl or have a cup of its juice on a regular basis to reap its countless health benefits. Eat Healthy, Stay Happy with 1mg!
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
1. Afshar K, Stothers L, Scott H, MacNeily AE. Cranberry juice for the prevention of pediatric urinary tract infection: a randomized controlled trial. J Urol. 2012 Oct;188(4 Suppl):1584-7.
2. Kontiokari T, Sundqvist K, Nuutinen M, Pokka T, Koskela M, Uhari M. Randomised trial of cranberry-lingonberry juice and Lactobacillus GG drink for the prevention of urinary tract infections in women. BMJ. 2001 Jun 30;322(7302):1571.
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