Cranberries are a boon straight from heaven! Be it their look and feel, taste, or benefits, cranberries are the best of all berries. These deep red beauties are a common sight in many kitchens because of their health benefits.
You can make jams, spreads, dips, and whatnot with these delicious berries. But, one cranberry product that possesses equal therapeutic value as the fruit is cranberry juice. Pure cranberry juice is great for your heart, kidneys, liver, vagina, urinary tract, immune system, and GI tract.
Want to know more? Let’s see how cranberry juice fares as a refreshing summer drink. Start scrolling!
Table Of Contents
What Is So Good About Cranberry Juice?
Cranberry juice is made from fresh cranberry produce, and it is a life potion. There’s more to it than its bright, deep red color and tangy tartness.
Unsweetened cranberry juice is a low-calorie detox drink. The polyphenols, vitamins, and other active ingredients found in cranberries can also be found in its juice.
Scientific studies prove its therapeutic equivalence to cranberry, the fruit. Cranberry juice is a rich source of polyphenolic compounds, particularly anthocyanins (1).
Drinking two glasses of cranberry juice daily may also protect you from cardiovascular diseases. It also keeps diabetes, kidney troubles, and dental plaque at bay (2).
This juice may help in warding off fungal, yeast, and bacterial pathogens. It can effectively control chronic urinary tract infections and keep your intimate areas healthy (2).
In the following sections, we will discuss the benefits of drinking cranberry juice along with the scientific evidence to back them. Keep reading!
What Are The Health Benefits Of Cranberry Juice?
1. Controls Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Cranberry contains flavonoids, terpenoids, anthocyanins, catechin, and organic acids like citric, malic, quinic, benzoic, and glucuronic acids. Benzoic acid is excreted from your body as hippuric acid. This hippuric acid is identified to inhibit bacterial growth (3). It maintains the acidic pH of urine, making it difficult for the bacteria to survive.
Several controlled trials with women as subjects were conducted in which they were put on cranberry juice for 12 months. It was reported that cranberry juice decreased the recurrence of UTIs in these women (3).
In another study, 225 children were given cranberry juice and placebo for 6 months. The children who received cranberry juice needed less number of days on antibiotic therapy. But, the acidity of cranberry juice makes it less palatable to children (3).
2. Boosts Heart Health
The active ingredients of cranberry juice have vasorelaxing properties. In simpler terms, drinking cranberry juice can relax the stiff blood vessels in your body. Thus, it lowers blood pressure or hypertension. This property of cranberry juice was proven in rat and pig studies (4), (5).
A study was conducted on 30 women and 26 men, who were given 8 oz. of low-cal, sucralose-sweetened cranberry juice or identical placebo. After 8 weeks, the volunteers who were given cranberry juice had lower levels of 5 out of the 22 indicators of cardiometabolic risk in their blood (6).
That means they had a lower combined risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, and stroke (6).
If you are looking for a heart-healthy meal, add a glass of cranberry juice to your daily diet.
3. Improves Dental Health And Hygiene
Cranberry juice creates a protective layer on your teeth. The cranberry juice-film makes it difficult for the bacteria that cause cavities to cling to the surface of your teeth (7).
Glucan is the building block of plaque. Oral bacteria utilize glucan to build dental plaque. Ultimately, the plaque covers your teeth and triggers decay. However, cranberry juice disrupts the formation of glucan (7).
Cranberry juice prevents bacteria from forming plaque by inhibiting these enzymes. When added to dental products, this juice can also stop additional bacteria from adhering to the surface of your teeth (7).
4. Prevents Kidney Calcification And Infection
Cranberry juice is a traditional remedy that has been used for decades to treat UTIs and kidney conditions. The active ingredients of cranberry can inhibit the adherence of pathogens (8).
A 2003 study conducted on healthy males reported a positive effect of this juice. Drinking about 500 ml of cranberry juice a day reduced oxalate excretion in these males. The oxalate ions interact with calcium and form calcium oxalate kidney stones (8).
This study also found that phosphate ion excretion decreased while citrate increased. Together, oxalate, citrate, and phosphate control the calcification of kidneys. Hence, drinking this juice can prevent chronic kidney disease (CKD), kidney calcification, nephritis, and other kidney diseases (8).
5. Mitigates Liver Diseases
Recent mice studies have reported that cranberry extract can decrease lipid accumulation in the liver. It was found to prevent the build-up of oxidative stress in high fat-fed mice (9).
A daily dose of cranberry extract can improve blood cholesterol and lipid profile in humans. As a result, the HDL levels of subjects fed on this extract are higher. The expression of anti-inflammatory genes and substances goes up too (9).
Dietary supplementation of cranberry extracts can mitigate liver diseases. These include non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), steatohepatitis, and cirrhosis. Such foods ensure these conditions do not progress to hepatocarcinoma and other cancers (9).
6. Possesses Strong Anti-inflammatory Properties
Research has found that intake of low-calorie cranberry juice reduces the biomarkers of inflammation. Daily consumption of this juice or cocktail lowers the level of C-reactive protein (CRP) in your body. CRP concentration in your blood usually increases when there is inflammation (10).
Several in-house anti-inflammatory enzymes (like glutathione peroxidase, phospho¬-c-Jun-N-¬terminal kinase) levels are boosted, thanks to the polyphenols found in cranberry juice (10).
Drinking cranberry juice can, therefore, reduce the severity of chronic and acute inflammatory disorders. These include atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, colitis, periodontitis, UTIs, and diabetes. (10), (11).
7. Combats Vaginal Infections
Women are more prone to UTIs because their urethra is close to the vagina and anus. Also, it is shorter in length than in men. Escherichia coli causes most UTIs. These bacteria can easily travel from the anus to the urethra while urinating or during intercourse (12).
Therefore, it is imperative for women to monitor their vaginal health. Dietary changes can naturally boost immunity against several vaginal pathogens, and the various forms of cranberry are known to prevent UTIs.
Cranberry polyphenols, particularly proanthocyanidins, are said to demonstrate this property. These proanthocyanidins decrease the adherence of E. coli and Candida fungus to uroepithelial and vaginal epithelial cells, thus preventing the aggravation of vaginal infections (13).
8. Reduces Risk And Severity Of Diabetes
The fruit and vegetable intake of people with type 2 diabetes is typically low. This is probably because of its perceived adverse effect on glycemic control. Low-calorie cranberry juice can be a healthy way of increasing fruit intake in such cases (14).
In a study conducted on 58 males with type 2 diabetes, half of them were given a cup of cranberry juice per day, while the rest were served placebo. After 12 weeks, there was a significant decrease in serum glucose in the experiment group (15).
Elevated levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) are commonly seen in people with diabetes. The oxidation of LDL worsens diabetes. Thus, ultimately, cranberry juice can bring down the severity of diabetes. While at it, this drink can also reduce the risk of metabolic disorders (like obesity and CVDs) (15)
9. Prevent Bacterial Adherence To Urinary Tract
How do you think UTIs occur? It is an interesting model of bacteria-human cell interaction.
E. coli (bacteria) is the primary cause of most UTIs. Certain infectious strains of E. coli are covered with small hair-like projections known as fimbriae. Fimbriae act like hooks and latch onto cells that line the urinary tract, thus triggering the infection (16).
The best way to prevent such UTIs is to disturb the human-bacterial cell attachment. And that’s exactly what cranberry juice does! When exposed to cranberry juice, the fimbriae on E. coli cells curl up. Thus, the ability of the bacteria to cling to your urinary tract and infect it is reduced multifold (16).
That’s why unsweetened cranberry juice is one of the best remedies for UTIs and vaginal infections.
10. Is An Excellent Detox Drink
Cranberries contain abundant amounts of antioxidants, such as phenolic acids and flavonoids. Cranberry juice phenolics are also known to boost antioxidant capacity. Hence, it can effectively reduce oxidative stress (17).
Cranberry juice is rich in potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins C, A, and K. Therefore, this summer drink is sure to replenish your body’s electrolytes (18).
Pure cranberry juice is also said to aid weight loss. However, there is not enough scientific evidence to support this fact.
11. Improves Gut Health And Metabolism
Cranberry extracts can protect your gut health and digestion. This berry has potent antimicrobial activity that blocks pathogenic infections in your gut (19).
Cranberry juice may also inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori, Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Escherichia coli (19).
Cranberry proanthocyanidins, flavonols, and hydroxycinnamic acids may prevent such bacterial adhesion and cause lesser biofilm formation, thus controlling inflammation in your gut (19).
These active ingredients also exert a prebiotic effect on your stomach lumen and boost the growth of gut microbiota. This is probably why cranberry juice is given when you feel nauseous. It is clear, rich in vitamin C, and settles your upset tummy (19), (20).
12. Might Affect Influenza (Flu Virus) Severity
Cranberry juice blocks the process of bacterial and human interaction. A 2005 study reported an active substance in this juice called NDM. This substance is said to interfere in the life cycle of the Influenza virus (21).
A glass of cranberry juice is a shot of health. It repairs, recharges, and rejuvenates your body. To top it all, its benefits have been experimentally proven.
The active components behind these properties have been characterized and studied extensively. Take a look at its nutrition profile below for more info.
Nutritional Value Of Cranberry Juice
|Nutritional value per 1 cup (253 g)|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||0.33|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||30.87|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||0.3|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||23.5|
|Vitamin A, RAE||µg||5|
|Vitamin A, IU||IU||114|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin||µg||172|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||mg||3.04|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||µg||12.9|
The two major classes of phenolics identified in cranberries are phenolic acids and flavonoids. The most abundant phenolic acid is benzoic acid. It is followed by hydroxycinnamic, p-coumaric, sinapic, caffeic, and vanillic acids (24).
The predominant flavonoids present in cranberries are anthocyanins, flavonols, and flavan-3-ols (particularly proanthocyanidins). The major anthocyanins are peonidin-3-galactoside, cyanidin-3-galactoside, cyanidin-3-arabinoside, peonidin-3-arabinoside, peonidin-3-glucoside, and cyanidin-3-glucoside (24).
Hyperoside, quercetin, myricetin, avicularin, quercitrin, and their glycosides are also present in cranberries. Seventy five percent of the flavonols in processed cranberry juice were found to be quercetin (24).
No wonder this drink is a detox A-lister!
With the best and most potent phytochemicals in town, cranberry has the highest antioxidant capacity (4.56 μmol TE/g). It ranks on top among 24 most commonly consumed fruits (24).
Wondering how to experience the power of this juice? Why search elsewhere?
Scroll down to find a quick recipe to make this refreshing drink.
How To Make Cranberry Juice At Home
Here’s a super quick recipe for making cranberry juice at home. You can have it sweet or unsweetened. This versatile drink can be played around with, and you can add a variety of fruits to give it your twist!
What You Need
- Cranberries: 1 quart
- Water: 1 quart
- Sweetener of choice: ½ to 1 cup (to taste) [Sugar, honey, pure cane syrup, agave nectar, or artificial sweetener]
- Boiling pot: Medium-large
- Strainer or muslin cloth
Let’s Make It!
- Pour the water and cranberries into a pot.
- Bring them to a low boil until the cranberries pop. This should take about 10 minutes.
- Drain the cranberry juice through a fine strainer into a container.
- Squeeze the berries to extract the juice.
- Let the juice to cool down.
- Serve fresh or chilled.
Cheers! You just made some fresh homemade cranberry juice!
You can add a dash of lemon or orange to this juice. Apples, tangerines, citrus fruits, other berries, and watermelon go well with this drink.
You can also blend milk and cereal to make a cranberry-flavored meal smoothie!
Mix some chilled cranberry juice with vodka. Just what you need on a Friday night to get happy high!
Sip on some cranberry juice while you read the last few sections of this article.
It’s so easy to make this low-cal drink that you may almost want to have it every day for breakfast.
But, there are some side effects of drinking too much cranberry juice. Find out what they are in the next section.
Does Cranberry Juice Cause Any Side Effects?
Drinking cranberry juice is generally safe. However, large amounts can cause an upset stomach. With time, it may also increase the risk of kidney stones (25).
High doses of cranberry and its extracts may also exhibit drug interactions. Blood thinners or anticoagulants are particularly reactive to cranberry juice. Drugs like warfarin, heparin, aspirin are examples of this class of drugs (25).
Immunosuppressive drugs like tacrolimus might also interact with cranberry extract. Such situations might arise especially in someone who has received an organ transplant (26).
Such drug interactions can cause blood pressure fluctuations. If left untreated, fruit/herb-drug interactions can be fatal.
So, what is a safe way to consume cranberry juice? What is the daily limit of this drink?
What Is The Recommended Dose Of Cranberry Juice?
Well, there is no set value or range for this.
Ideally, 1-2 cups of cranberry juice per day are recommended for UTI prevention. You can also take about 3-6 cups a day, but make sure it is pure, unsweetened, or less sweet, and low in calories (27).
The safety of cranberry juice for pregnant and lactating women is not clear yet. It is best to consult a gynecologist before taking the plunge.
Also, if you are diagnosed with a UTI, consult a urologist or a nephrologist. Give an explicit account of your food habits. This helps the doctor choose the right supplements and doses for you.
Cranberry juice is the best summer drink with all its necessary bioactive ingredients. So, you can now relish cranberry cocktails without feeling guilty!
But, stick to the set limit. Follow the instructions given by your healthcare provider. You can try eating raw, whole cranberries for more fiber. Jams, powders, capsules, and other forms of cranberry supplements are available these days as well.
If you prefer homemade goods, try our recipe for making your own batch of cranberry juice. Write to us how you and your family liked it. Use the comments section below to reach us. We’d be happy to answer your queries.
Crank up the juicer for some cranberry cocktails!
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