Cranberries are higher in antioxidants than other fruits and berries. They are also lower in sugar than many other fruits and it has several health benefits. It is packed with antioxidants, fibre, and many other all-star nutrients. The antioxidants prevent urinary tract infections.
Cranberries are loaded with an antioxidant called proanthocyanidins, or PACs. PACs reduce the ability of bacteria to stick to the wall of the urinary tract and thus reduce chances of developing urinary tract infections. Cranberry extracts and juices have been proven to reduce urinary tract infections among thousands of people, and the American Urological Association recommends them as the first step in reducing recurring UTIs. But the bright red berry offers even more.
Cranberries are native to North America. They are farmed on approximately 40,000 acres across the northern United States and Canada. Cranberries are a healthy food due to their high nutrient and antioxidant content. They are often referred to as a ‘super food’. Half a cup of cranberry juice contains only 25 calories. The nutrients in cranberries have been linked to a lower risk of urinary tract infections, prevention of certain types of cancer, improved immune function, and decreased blood pressure.
Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (Rutgers NJAES) researcher Amy Howell explains that cranberries occupy an important place in the pharmacopoeia of Native American traditional medicine. Whenever a person in the tribe complained about an illness or got injured, he or she would be given cranberries to help the healing process. As centuries passed, the edible berry continued to be consumed for its ability to naturally support the normal function of the body as much as for its tart taste and nutrients. One particular use of cranberry that carried over from traditional medicine was the alleviation of bacterial infections in the urinary tract.
In 1998, Howell and her colleague Nicholi Vorsa discovered that proanthocyanidins accounted for the efficacy of cranberries in treating urinary tract infections. Their study showed that polyphenols stopped bacteria from attaching themselves to the walls of the urinary tract.
The findings of the Rutgers NJAES study inspired more studies on the healthy properties of cranberries. The accumulated research indicated that consuming cranberries as regularly as possible helped stop infections by similar bacteria.
Antioxidants can lower the occurrence of oxidative stress, a harmful process that is connected to various chronic diseases. So reducing oxidative stress could help lower the risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Fiber is great for overall gut health, and cranberries are packed with it—one cup has about 4.6 grams of fibre. We need fibre for a healthy digestive system and to maintain regular bowel movements.
Reduce bad cholesterol
Research suggests that regular consumption of low-calorie cranberry juice can reduce LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides, another component of cholesterol. Cranberry juice can be consumed without adding sugar, otherwise the sweet stuff has the opposite effect on cholesterol levels.
Prevent gum disease
The urinary tract isn’t the only place the anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory antioxidants work . Preliminary studies show that cranberries can help reduce bacteria’s ability to stick and grow in the oral cavity and limit gum disease, in the same way as they do with UTIs.
Boost immune system
But cranberries are actually high in the essential nutrient as well. One cup of cranberries contains 22 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.
Cell and animal studies have found that cranberry extracts and powders reduce inflammation and can help to prevent or reduce growth of various types of cancers, including cancers of the breast, cervix, ovary, colon, esophagus, prostate, brain, liver, lung, mouth, rectum, and stomach, as well as leukemia, lymphoma, and melanoma.