Cranberries are a small red fruit with a very distinct flavor. Found abundantly in the United States, cranberries have a very unique taste that people describe as both bitter and sour.
They are grown on vines and are cultivated mostly in North America and Canada. They were used in Native American medicine and sailors used to eat them to ward off scurvy.
Due to their prominent flavor, cranberries are most often consumed as juices, sauces, jams or as a dried fruit. Cranberry extract is also used to make supplements.
There is no doubt that cranberries have a lot of health benefits. Let’s take a look at all the benefits and risks associated with eating cranberries:
What Are The Health Benefits Of Eating Cranberries?
A healthy diet includes a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Cranberries offer a lot of health benefits and have been proven effective in preventing and fighting many diseases.
They are full of essential vitamins, fiber and antioxidants, which makes them good at fighting inflammation and diseases like cancer. Here is a detailed breakdown of all the health benefits of eating cranberries:
Urinary tract infections are one of the most common infections for women. They are caused by the E.coli bacteria which have an adverse effect on the urinary tract.
Cranberries have been used to help manage urinary tract infections for a long time. They contain A-type proanthocyanidins, a phytonutrient that prevents the E.coli bacteria from attaching itself to your urinary tract.
Cranberries are one of the most abundant sources of A-type proanthocyanidins, which means that regular consumption of cranberries can be a very effective preventative method for urinary tract infections.
Many studies have found conclusive evidence that the consumption of cranberries is effective in reducing UTI risk for both children and adults.
On the other hand, some studies did not report any such results. More research is needed to accurately analyze the role of cranberries in preventing UTIs.
If you do suffer from a urinary tract infection, make sure to speak with your doctor immediately. Cranberries can reduce the risk of contracting a UTI, but you will need antibiotics to treat the infection if you have contracted it.
Cranberries May Prevent Ulcers And Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer is one of the leading causes of death caused by cancer all over the world. The bacterium H. pylori is believed to be behind many ailments of the stomach, including ulcers, stomach cancer and inflammation in the stomach.
The phytonutrient known as A-type proanthocyanidins which makes cranberries effective at preventing UTIs can stop H. pylori from attaching to your stomach lining, thereby reducing your risk of stomach cancer and ulcers.
A study conducted with about 300 children found that drinking cranberry juice every day for 3 weeks led to reduced instances of H. pylori infections.
A similar study with adults found that consuming 500 ml of cranberry juice every day can cause a significant reduction in H. pylori infections.
Cranberries May Help Slow The Spread Of Cancer
Studies concerning the effects of cranberry juice on the progression of cancer have found that plant compounds in cranberries have an impact on the growth of cancer cells in test tubes.
They can cause cell death in cancer cells, slow down the progression of cancer cells and combat inflammation. Inflammation, especially over a long period of time, has been linked to several serious health issues.
The evidence also suggests that cranberries have a significant impact on other functions that allow the growth and spread of cancer. More research is needed to determine the exact effects of cranberry juice on the growth of cancer.
There aren’t enough studies on human subjects with cancer, but the existing research shows promising results for cranberry juice as an additional treatment component for cancer along with existing treatments.
Cranberries: Good For Dental Health?
Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, also known as PACs. This is the component that prevents bacteria from attaching themselves to parts of your body.
When you eat cranberries or drink cranberry juice, the PACs present in the cranberry prevent bacteria from latching onto your teeth and gums. This improves your dental health and prevents gum disease too.
Are Cranberries Good For The Heart?
Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Our lifestyles and the increased stress of current situations increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases by manifold.
Cranberries contain polyphenols. Research suggests that these polyphenols can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The regular consumption of cranberries was found to help manage several different risk factors of cardiovascular disease like blood pressure. It also helped with achieving a healthier body mass index and increasing the amount of good cholesterol in the body.
In a study of overweight and obese subjects, it was found that regular consumption of cranberry juice improved their blood sugar, reduced inflammation and heightened the level of HDL lipoprotein.
More research is needed on the subject, but current evidence suggests that consuming cranberries can help lower blood pressure, reduce stiffness in blood vessels, lower risk of inflammation, boost levels of good cholesterol and reduce levels of bad cholesterol.
Risks And Side Effects Of Cranberries
When consumed in moderation, cranberries, cranberry juice and cranberry supplements are completely safe for most people.
However, too much of a good thing can prove dangerous. Eating excess amounts of cranberries can cause stomach problems. It can also lead to kidney stones in people with predisposing conditions.
Kidney stones are formed due to the high concentration of certain minerals in your urine. They are usually very painful.
Kidney stones are made of oxalate. Cranberries and cranberry extracts contain increased amounts of oxalates. So if you are already at risk of developing kidney stones, it is best to avoid cranberries or cranberry products.
People who are not susceptible to kidney stones showed no adverse effects on the consumption of cranberry juice. If you don’t have any preexisting conditions, it is completely safe to eat cranberries and cranberry products.
Patients who have been prescribed blood-thinning drugs should also avoid excessive consumption of cranberries. The evidence is inconclusive so far, but it could result in excess bleeding as cranberries could potentially strengthen the drug’s anticlotting properties.
How To Eat Cranberries
It is important to know how to eat cranberries. There are a lot of cranberry products available on the market. All of them promise miraculous health benefits, but it is important to know all the ingredients and their impact on your body.
Since cranberries can be pretty sour, most cranberry products have a lot of added sugar or sweeteners. Excess amounts of sugar will have adverse effects on your health, so if you do choose a cranberry product, ensure that you find one with the least amount of sugar.
If you are looking for cranberry juice, find the one that has cranberry juice as the primary ingredient.
We often only think of cranberries when Thanksgiving rolls around, but there are many different ways to enjoy cranberries all year.
You can add dried cranberries to your cereal or trail mix, add frozen cranberries to your daily smoothie or use fresh cranberries in baked goods. If you are eating fresh cranberries, fall is the perfect time to buy them.
There is no doubt that cranberries have a lot of amazing health benefits. They help in the treatment and prevention of several painful diseases. Cranberries are also low cost and completely natural, making them a very attractive solution for many health risks.
More research is needed to accurately determine how to best use the medical properties of cranberries. Meanwhile, it is always a good idea to include fresh or dried cranberries and low-sugar cranberry products into our daily diet.