Cranberries are small acidic berries which grow on evergreen shrubs that are native to North America. They were first harvested by Native Americans and later by the Europeans (1). The Latin name of this fruit is ‘Vacciniummacrocarpon’ and it belongs to the family ‘Ericaceae’. Since the dawn of 21st century, cranberries have been marketed as super fruits on account of their rich nutrient and antioxidant properties. Cranberries can be processed into juice, jam, sauce or candies. They are also available in a dried form.
Cranberries are often associated with celebrations and festivals in North America. They are a regular at the thanksgiving festival. Red and juicy they are relished by all.
These days’ experts agree that cranberry is just not for festivals but should be consumed year round. Studies have validated the anti oxidant properties of cranberries. In fact, it has been named as one of the top 25 superfoods.
Cranberries provide a myriad of benefits and are revered for their nutritional benefits. Let’s look at how cranberries can be beneficial for us and how we can include it in our health routine.
What are Cranberries?
- Cranberries are small acidic berries which grow on evergreen shrubs that are native to North America. They were first harvested by Native Americans and later by the Europeans. The Latin name of this fruit is ‘Vacciniummacrocarpon’ and it belongs to the family ‘Ericaceae’.
- Since the dawn of 21st century, cranberries have been marketed as super fruits on account of their rich nutrient and antioxidant properties. Cranberries can be processed into juice, jam, sauce or candies. They are also available in a dried form.
- Cranberry juice is a dark red, unsweetened juice made from whole cranberries. The purest form of this juice is the one that is 100% preservative free and with no added color or flavor. It is very strong and tart, and is therefore generally consumed after diluting with water.
- Doctors typically recommend the unsweetened variety rather than the sweetened packaged kinds that are found in the market these days.
- Pure cranberry juice offers a host of health and beauty benefits on account of its high nutritional value.
Nutritional Value Of Cranberry Juice:
- Cranberry juice has a remarkable amount of antioxidants when compared to other fruits and vegetables.
- One cup of cranberries possesses 8983 antioxidant capacity.
- It contains anthocyanin flavonoids, sianidin, peonidin, quercetin, tannins and 87.13g of water per 100 g. It is a good source of salicylic acid and Vitamin C.
- It nourishes the body with carbohydrates, proteins and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, E and K.
Cranberry Juice Benefits:
a. Health Benefits Of Cranberry Juice:
Cranberry is a versatile fruit with far reaching health benefits. Its medicinal properties have been recognized since centuries. Native Americans would use raw cranberries to dress wounds. The phytonutrients found in cranberry juice are known to prevent a host of health problems. Cranberries are a very good source of antioxidants too. Antioxidants are compounds that can either be manufactured naturally by the body or ingested from food and drinks. Antioxidants slow down and prevent the oxidation process through their ability to stabilize free radicals by donating an electron. Flavonoids and polyphenols found in cranberry juice fixes and prevent the damage of cells thereby lowering the risk of infections and other diseases. Let’s have a look at cranberry juice health benefits:
1. Prevents Urinary Tract Infections:
- Urinary tract infection refers to the presence of microorganisms in the urine that exceeds the permissible limit. There is significant evidence that suggests that cranberry juice helps to prevent urinary tract infection (2)
- Proanthocyanidins found in cranberry juice prevents the bacteria from binding itself to the cells of the bladder walls. These compounds prevent the bacteria from multiplying further and flush them out of the body through urine.
- This juice makes the urine more acidic thereby creating an environment that is inhospitable for the infection causing bacteria to thrive. Drinking cranberry juice regularly can prevent recurring tract infections in middle aged and pregnant women.
2. Anti-tumor Properties:
- The polyphenol compound present in cranberry has anti-tumor effects.
- Regular consumption of cranberry juice inhibits the development and spread of lung, breast, colon and prostate tumors (3).
- The presence of salicylic acid reduces swelling and prevents the formation of blood clots which can lead to tumor.
3. Improves Cardiovascular Health:
- Cranberry juice lowers the risk of developing heart related ailments and improves cardiovascular health.
- The flavonoids and antioxidants present in cranberries decrease the threat of atherosclerosis, a condition in which the arteries get constricted owing to the accumulation of fat in it. This obstructs the flow of oxygen rich blood to various parts of the body which can lead to heart attack or stroke. These compounds found in cranberries suppress the oxidation of low density lipoprotein and encourage the formation of blood platelets (4).
4. Combats Tooth Decay:
- Cranberry juice is also known to prevent tooth decay. Proanthocyanidin found in cranberries inhibits the growth of bacteria that cause plaque and prevents the decay of teeth due to development of cavities (5).
- Good dental hygiene along with a moderate consumption of cranberry juice disrupts the mechanism of pathogenesis and promotes good dental health.
- Unsweetened cranberry juice decreases the incidence of the bacteria that are found in the mouth and combats bad breath too. Therefore a healthy dose of this juice ensures clean teeth at all times.
5. Fights Cancer:
- Incorporating cranberry juice in the daily diet can even prevent the occurrence of certain types of cancers (6).
- The proanthocyanidin in cranberries inhibits the growth of cancer cells in the body.
- Studies have concluded that a diet rich in flavonoids reduces the risk of cancer and the mortality due to it.
- The anti-carcinogenic compounds found in this juice hinder the growth of cancer cells, particularly those of colon and prostate cancer. It hinders growth of micro tumors in the blood cells and prevents their unrestrained growth. Certain chemicals in cranberries thwart the incidence of breast cancer too.