Cranberries are rarely consumed fresh due to its sour taste, and most of the time, you can see it in juice form, which is already processed to give it a sweet, tangy flavor. It belongs to the heather family, and it is commonly grown in North America. Aside from ready to drink juices, it is also available as a packed sauce, dried, powdered, and juice extract. The health benefits of cranberry are related to its plant compounds, vitamins, and minerals. It also became famous as an effective treatment for UTI or urinary tract infection.
1. Nutrients Dense
Almost 90% of the fruit is water, and the rest is composed of fiber and carbohydrates. Consuming 100 grams of raw cranberries will give you 46 calories, some protein, 4 grams of sugar, and 4.6 grams of fiber. Like any other fruit, it is a simple sugar such as glucose, sucrose, and fructose. Still, the good thing about it is that it contains insoluble fiber like cellulose, pectin, and hemicelluloses.
Cranberry nutrition includes many vitamins and minerals, especially ascorbic acid or vitamin C, which is very important in overall health. Manganese is vital for growth, metabolism as well as it serves as an antioxidant for the body. Vitamin K1 or phylloquinone is essential for blood clotting. An important trace mineral in cranberry is copper that is often lacking in the Western diet. Deficiency in this mineral can negatively affect the heart.
Despite its small size, the fruit has other plant compounds vital for health that make cranberry good for you. However, most of the benefits are found on its skin, unfortunately, lost during processed.
- Quercetin- These polyphenol compounds have the highest percentage in cranberry, among other fruit sources.
- Myricetin- Another major antioxidant found in this fruit and proven beneficial for overall health.
- Peonidin- This plant compound, along with cyanidin, gives the fruit its rich red color.
- Ursolic acid- This plant compound is mostly found on its skin and known for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
- A-type proanthocyanidins are also known as condensed tannins, which are the polyphenols responsible for its effectiveness against UTI.
2. Prevent Infection of the Urinary Tract
Urinary tract infection is one of the most common conditions, especially among females. Many are not aware, but it is due to the bacteria called E. coli when it attaches to the inner surface of the urinary tract and the gallbladder. As mentioned, the cranberry juice benefits have A-type proanthocyanidins that prevent the bacteria from entering the urinary tract.
The good news is that there are numerous human studies done in cranberry’s health benefits to prevent UTI. However, it is good to be very cautious about the product you will consume for this purpose as proanthocyanidins are lost during processing. Taking supplements that are proven and licensed by the FDA is a good option for you.
Keep in mind that cranberry juice benefits are not for treatment as it can only reduce the risk of getting UTI.
3. Prevention of Disease Related to Stomach
The bacterium that is known to cause most stomach disorders, including cancer, is Helicobacter pylori. The A-type proanthocyanidins are effective in preventing such bacteria from attaching the lining of the stomach.
A study about cranberry nutrition in 189 adults found out that consuming 500 ml of juice a day can reduce the bacteria’s infection. Another large study in 295 children who drank cranberry juice a day resulted in preventing H-pylori bacteria’s growth by 17 percent for those who are already infected.
4. Improve Heart Health
Cranberries are related to the heart’s increased ability to fight diseases due to its antioxidant compounds such as quercetin, anthocyanins, and the proanthocyanidins. Human studies are linked to decreasing the risk of several heart diseases that make cranberry good for you. Most of the investigations resulted in several beneficial effects for the heart, like increasing HDL level and lowering LDL in people with diabetes. It can also prevent oxidation of LDL that is known to create an adverse reaction to the heart.
5. Side Effects of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are formed in the urine once certain minerals accumulate inside. It is good to know that you can prevent stones through a healthy and balanced diet. Most of the stones found in the urine are composed of oxalate. Although cranberry is known to avoid UTI, one should also consume it in moderation because of its high oxalate amount.