What is the first thing that comes to mind when we think about cranberry juice benefits? Urinary tract infection prevention and treatment, of course. Drinking cranberry juice is good for vaginal health in general. Women have been using cranberries and cranberry juice for that purpose for centuries. But did you know that studies are revealing that cranberry juice may have numerous other benefits?
Studies show promise in the prevention of age-related oxidative damage and a reduction in chronic diseases. Furthermore, cranberry juice benefits may extend to helping prevent heart disease, oral diseases, and stomach disorders.
What You Need To Know About Cranberry Juice Benefits
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Before we can understand cranberry juice benefits, we have to dig in just a little bit to understand cranberries. Cranberries are a fruit of the heather family and are related to lingonberries, bilberries, and blueberries. The cranberry variety that most of us are familiar with is the American Cranberry. It’s native to North America, and extends as far south as North Carolina, and up to northeast Wisconsin and Newfoundland. Most of our cranberries come from Wisconsin, but they also grow in other northern states and North Carolina. For example, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington all are major production areas.
What Exactly Are Cranberries?
When you see the Ocean Spray commercials of farmers wading in knee-high oceans of cranberries, you’re seeing the real deal to a degree. Cranberries thrive in bogs. Here is a popular Ocean Spray commercial.
Cranberries have less natural sugar than most fruits. Every cup of cranberries has only four grams of sugar. Comparatively, other berries have 5 to 7 grams of sugar per cup, and cherries have 18 grams of sugar per cup. There are approximately a whopping 4,400 cranberries in a gallon of cranberry juice.
Cranberries need bees to pollinate their flowers. Cranberries are harvested once a year, from September through early November — just in time for Thanksgiving’s delicious fresh cranberry sauce!
How To Use cranberry Juice
Here is the awesome thing about cranberry juice. To get cranberry juice benefits, you only need to drink two eight-ounce glasses per day. You can get many cranberry juice benefits if you drink only one eight-ounce glass per day. Furthermore, you can even add it to your favorite cocktails if you imbibe.
However, note that there is a difference between cranberry juice and some cranberry juice cocktail beverages. Don’t be afraid of the word “cocktail” in this case. However, we recommend that you read labels carefully to be sure that you’re not buying a cranberry beverage that contains high-fructose corn syrup. High-fructose corn syrup is the same harmful sweetener that you find in soft drinks. Also, we suggest that you look for a cranberry juice brand that has no added sugar. Even some popular cranberry juice cocktails have sugar in them. Alternatively, the same brands offer 100 percent juice blends.
Cranberry juice without sweetener is quite tart. Most people enjoy it sweetened. Therefore, high-quality cranberry beverages have other juice in them to give them a natural sweetness. Always look for cranberry juice that is labeled “100% juice.” These cranberry beverages are sweetened with other fruit juices, such as apple, pear, cherry, and grape.
In this article, anytime we mention cranberry juice benefits, we are referring to cranberry juice and cranberry juice cocktail that is sweetened only with other juices. That means it’s “100% juice.” While we don’t endorse any specific company or brand, we’re sharing this graphic so that you have a visual of what to look for to find “100% juice.”
Do Cranberry Pills Offer The Same Cranberry Juice Benefits?
You can still enjoy cranberry juice benefits if you take cranberry supplements. To make cranberry pills, manufacturers use dried, powdered cranberries. Some cranberry pills also contain vitamin C and probiotics to help enhance their effects. Furthermore, one serving of cranberry supplement is usually the equivalent of one eight-ounce glass of cranberry juice.
If for some reason you can’t drink cranberry juice, cranberry supplements are a great substitute. However, we recommend that you go with the juice whenever you can to get cranberry juice benefits. It’s delicious and wonderfully hydrating. Plus, it has all of those great nutritional benefits. Nevertheless, talk to your doctor to get guidance on whether you should seek cranberry juice benefits from supplements or juice.
Side Effects And Interactions
Generally, people tolerate cranberry juice well, but some people have reported abdominal pain, increased urination, and stomach discomfort when consuming too much cranberry juice or taking more than the recommended amount of cranberry supplements. People who drink excessive cranberry juice may experience diarrhea.
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Furthermore, cranberries are high in salicylic acid, which is a natural anti-inflammatory compound. If you’re sensitive or allergic to salicylates, talk to your medical practitioner before beginning a regimen of cranberry juice or cranberry supplements.
Also, talk to your doctor if you have a history of kidney stones. Cranberries are high in oxalate, which sometimes causes kidney stones.
As for drug interactions, if you take the blood-thinning medication Warfarin, consult your doctor because cranberry may increase the effects of this medication. Cranberries may also interact with cyclosporine, flurbiprofen, diclofenac, amoxicillin, cefaclor, midazolam, and tizanidine. If you take any of these medications, talk to your doctor before consuming cranberry products.
Also, if you take aspirin, consult with your doctor before consuming excessive amounts of cranberries. Furthermore, if you are allergic to aspirin, don’t consume cranberry juice or use cranberry supplements before talking to your doctor.
Cranberry Juice And Children
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents limit the fruit juice intake of toddlers and children, and advises against giving juice to babies. The information in this article is for adults who seek to supplement their diets with cranberry juice. It is not advice on what to feed children.
12 Cranberry Juice Benefits
There is so much interest in cranberry juice benefits that Ocean Spray, the company whose main products are cranberry juice and cranberry juice cocktail, announced in 2017 that it is spending $10 million dollars on the research of cranberry juice benefits. We’ve dug into the data and studies to see exactly what benefits cranberry juice can provide.
1. Cranberry Juice Is Antioxidant-Rich
An 8-ounce glass of cranberry juice provides 20 percent of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a well-known fat-soluble antioxidant that benefits your heart and skin. Plus, it keeps your blood vessels healthy.
Furthermore, cranberry juice contains a higher number of polyphenols than those in prunes, raisins, apricots, and figs. Researchers say that phenolic antioxidants in cranberry juice create an increase in plasma antioxidant capacity. That enhances the body’s ability to scavenge free radicals and aid in keeping your cells healthy.
2. Cranberry Juice Is Rich In Vitamins And Minerals
- Vitamin C: 23.5 milligrams (25-35 percent of the daily recommended intake)
- Magnesium: 15 milligrams
- Vitamin K1: 12.9 micrograms
- Calcium: 8.8 milligrams to 20 milligrams
- Vitamin A: 66.0 IU
- Iron: 0.63 milligrams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Vitamin E: 1.3 to 3 milligrams (20 percent of the recommended daily intake)
- Phosphorus: 14.3 to 33 milligrams
- Potassium: 195 milligrams
- Zinc: 0.25 milligrams
- Thiamin, manganese, niacin, riboflavin, folate, and vitamin B-6, copper, pantothenic acid, choline: trace amounts of the recommended daily intake
- Fiber: 0.3 grams (raw cranberries have lots of fiber, but juicing depletes it)
That’s a lot of nutrition in one yummy glass of cranberry juice.
3. Cranberry Juice Fights Age-Related Oxidative Damage
Research has shown that when cranberry extract was administered to a laboratory worm, the worm’s lifespan and healthspan increased. Cranberry juice benefits anti-aging practices because cranberries are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals like proanthocyanidins and vitamin C.
4. Cranberry Juice May Improve Heart Health
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This wonder juice is fat-free, cholesterol free, and has only five milligrams of sodium. This makes it a heart-healthy beverage for people with hypertension or high blood pressure.
A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that drinking two glasses of cranberry juice per day boosted the heart health of study volunteers. Volunteers consumed eight ounces of cranberry juice at breakfast and the same at dinner. At the end of the eight-week trial, the subjects had lower levels of triglycerides, glucose levels, diastolic blood pressure, and insulin resistance.
Furthermore, another study concluded that chronic cranberry juice consumption significantly reduces carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, which is a measure of arterial stiffness.
5. Cranberry Juice May Prevent Tooth Decay And Treat Diseases Of The Mouth
Canadian research suggested that cranberry juice may prevent and treat oral diseases, including tooth cavities. A chemical compound in cranberries blocks harmful bacteria from adhering to teeth. Furthermore, components in cranberries inhibit acid production. They can also help protect teeth from periodontal diseases because they prevent the growth of plaque.
6. Cranberry Juice Prevents Urinary Tract Infections In Women
A 2012 study concluded that cranberry-containing products provide protective effects against urinary tract infections. The antioxidants and acidic compounds in cranberries help keep bacteria from adhering to the wall of the bladder, thereby serving as a mechanism to flush out the bad guys through urination.
Furthermore, a study on 40 children aged 5 to 18 showed that drinking cranberry juice with a high concentration of proanthocyanidins reduced the risk of a urinary tract infection by 65 percent.
You need oral antibiotics for urinary tract infections, but adding cranberry juice to your diet will help reduce the frequency of infection. One study suggested that consumption of cranberry juice may significantly reduce bacteria counts in infected bladders.
7. Cranberry Juice Protects Against UTI In Uncircumcised Boys
Cranberry juice benefits for women and girls are well documented. That said, cranberry juice also benefits the urinary tracts of boys and men. Specifically, uncircumcised boys who drink cranberry juice every day may experience a decrease in the number of repeated urinary tract infections.
8. Cranberry Juice Supports And Improves Digestive Health
Cranberries are rich in phytochemicals that help improve digestion. Furthermore, they can prevent peptic ulcer formation. A University of Florida study revealed that cranberry juice prevents the colonization of H. pylori, which is the microorganism that attacks the protective layer of the duodenum and the stomach. Furthermore, the same study suggested that cranberry juice benefits the body by protecting against intestinal inflammation. A study published in the International Journal of Biotechnology and Biochemistry supports these results.
9. Cranberry Juice Prevents Infections
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A 2010 study showed that cranberry juice can help block strains of Haemophilus influenzae, a common cause of respiratory infections, ear infections, and meningitis in children. The way it works is that the juice blocks the bacteria’s hair-like structures, keeping them from adhering to the surface of the skin. Furthermore, research shows that cranberry juice is effective against norovirus and has antimicrobial effects on the body.
10. Cranberry Juice Supports Post-Menopausal Health
A big concern for women experiencing menopause is cholesterol levels. Women who are postmenopausal are at higher risk for cardiovascular diseases than similarly-aged men and pre-menopausal women. Cranberry juice benefits menopausal women by lowering cholesterol levels in the body. Research at Harvard Medical School demonstrated that cranberry juice consumption improved both cholesterol profiles and vascular functions in postmenopausal women.
11. Cranberry Juice Treats Lung Inflammation
The anti-inflammatory effects of cranberries have been proven effective against lung inflammation caused by the flu virus. A substance in cranberries called nondialyzable material (NDM) prevents the virus from sticking to the cells. Therefore, cranberry juice can essentially protect us against the flu.
12. Cranberry Juice May Prevent Cancer
Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, which help inhibit the growth of some cancer cells, particularly the cancers associated with prostate and colon cancer. The Anti-Cancer Agents in the Medicinal Chemistry journal published these findings. Plus, cranberries can help reduce the risk of cancer and cancer mortality.
Another study, conducted at University of Prince Edward Island, Canada, showed that proanthocyanidins could help prevent micro-tumors from developing in blood vessels. Research conducted at the University of Western Ontario supports these claims. Specifically, scientists fed cranberry presscake to mice bearing human breast cancer tumor cells, and the cranberry decreased the growth and metastasis of tumors.
Can Cranberry Juice Benefits Make A Difference For You?
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Now that you’ve read all of the science behind cranberry juice, can cranberry juice benefits make a difference for you? The answer is a resounding yes! For the cost of one or two eight-ounce glass of delicious cranberry juice per day, you can enjoy all of the benefits we’ve covered here. Enjoy your juice!
Disclaimer: This article is not medical advice and is for informational purposes only. Always talk to your doctor before you begin seeking cranberry juice benefits or using any other supplement.