Cranberries are tiny, but tasty infection-fighting fruits packed with antioxidant Vitamin C and natural anti-bacterial properties and have been proven to prevent and treat common infections of the immune, digestive and urinary system.
The cranberry is a glossy, bright red, tart-tasting berry and is closely related to the blueberry. Like blueberries, cranberries can be found growing as wild shrubs, but are also grown to be cultivated.
Cranberries are rich in fiber and are an excellent source of Vitamin C and phytonutrients, such as flavonoids and proanthocyanidins (PAC).They contain more phenolic antioxidants than nineteen of the most popular consumed fruits according to a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.
Numerous studies have established the role of cranberries in fighting urinary tract infections (UTIs) such as cystitis. According to one scientific advisor, cranberries are not only nutritious but have unique antiadhesion and antibacterial properties not found in other fruit:
"There have been multiple clinical studies done using cranberry juice and it turns out that cranberry has unique antiadhesion properties that prevent certain harmful bacteria from sticking to cells in our body. This newer concept of antiadhesion is not just limited to UTIs (urinary tract infections) but potentially other harmful bacteria as well, including those responsible for stomach ulcers and gum disease."
Multiple studies have found that flavonoid compounds including anthocyanins, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins, found naturally in cranberries, are able to fight leukemia, breast, lung, colon and potentially many other types of cancer.
Cranberry juice has been shown to inhibit bacteria associated with peptic ulcers, H. pylori. Though most ulcers are not life-threatening, H. pylori bacteria has been associated with stomach cancer, acid reflux disease and gastritis. Cranberries' properties have also been shown to help reduce diarrhea.
In a study that appeared in the Journal of the American Dental Association, a component of cranberry juice was demonstrated to have the ability to stop bacteria from adhering to teeth and gums, thus reducing plaque and periodontal disease.
Tips on Using Cranberries
- Many commercially available cranberry juices contain low levels of cranberry juice and high amounts of much sugar or artificial sweeteners, therefore read the labels carefully, or opt for pure organic juices.
- Fresh, then dried cranberries retain the most antioxidants; bottled cranberry drinks and cranberry cocktails with added sugars or sweeteners contain the least.
- Turner A. Inhibition of uropathogenic Escherichia coli by cranberry juice: a new antiadherence assay. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Nov 16;53(23):8940-7.
- Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of common fruits. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Dec 4;50(25):7449-54.
- Yan X, Murphy BT,Hammond GB, Vinson JA,Neto CC. Antioxidant activities and antitumor screening of extracts from cranberry fruit (Vaccinium macrocarpon). J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Oct 9;50(21):5844-9.
- Zhang L. Efficacy of cranberry juice on Helicobacter pylori infection: a double-blind, randomized placebocontrolled trial. Helicobacter. 2005 Apr;10(2):139-45.
- Weiss EI et al. Inhibiting interspecies coaggregation of plaque bacteria with a cranberry juice constituent [published erratam appear in J Am Dent Assoc 1999 Jan;130(1):36 and 1999 Mar;130(3):332] J Am Dent Assoc. 1998 Dec;129(12):1719-23.
- Labrecque J, Bodet C, Chandad F, Grenier D. Effects of a high-molecular-weight cranberry fraction on growth, biofilm formation and adherence of Porphyromonas gingivalis. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2006 Aug;58(2):439-43.