Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice
You may have heard that drinking cranberry juice can help with a urinary tract infection (UTI), but that’s not the only benefit. It is also beneficial in preventing stomach disorders and diabetes, as well as gum diseases caused by dental plaque. Phytonutrients, which are naturally derived plant compounds, are present in the fruit juice and have been found to prevent a wide range of health problems.
Cranberries are water-harvested fruits. They are packed with nutrients to help your body ward off infections and boost overall health. In fact, throughout history, they’ve been used to treat urinary issues, upset stomachs, and liver problems.
Cranberries grow in marshes. When the berries are ripe and ready to pick, they float in the water. Being on the water’s surface exposes them to more sunlight. This may increase their nutritional value.
Like most fruits, you get the highest level of nutrition when you eat cranberries whole. But the juice is still chock-full of benefits.
What is Cranberry Juice?
Cranberry juice is the juice made from cranberries, which are one of the native fruits of North America. The juice is rich in nutrients and is useful in food as well as in medicinal products.
The Latin name for the cranberry plant is Vaccinium macrocarpon. Cranberries have a tremendous amount of antioxidant capacity as compared to other vegetables and fruits like broccoli, spinach, and apples. One cup of cranberries measures a total 8983 antioxidant capacity.
Read on to find out how drinking cranberry juice can benefit your health.
Uses of Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice, made from the fruit extract or cranberry concentrate, is used to make various sauces and cranberry juice cocktail. About one liter of juice can be extracted from 1500 grams of fresh cranberries. Cranberry juice cocktails are approximately 30% pure cranberry juice mixed with artificial sweetener or fructose.
The fruit extract is also used to make medicines, gels, and tonics for its healing benefits. Dried cranberries are also very healthy and can be enjoyed with breakfast cereals, energy bars, granola bars, trail mixes, or can be added to muffins.
Nutritional Value of Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and salicylic acid. By containing only 45 calories per cup, cranberry juice fits very well within the dietary guidelines. Cranberry juice also contains 87.13 g water per 100 g. It provides energy, protein, and carbohydrates. In terms of minerals, it contains calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and zinc. It also contains vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), and vitamin K (phylloquinone). Cranberries are members of the Ericaceae family and are native to North America.
Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice has long been used for curing various illnesses. The health benefits of cranberries include the following.
Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, a compound commonly found in plants. It’s believed that this compound can help prevent UTIs by stopping bacteria from attaching itself to the lining of the urinary tract. If the bacteria can’t grow and spread, it can’t cause an infection.
Unfortunately, research about cranberry juice has been mixed. Some studies show cranberry juice to be effective in reducing the risk for UTIs, while others have found that it isn’t an effective treatment.
More research is still needed to determine the exact benefits.
The anti-tumor efficacy offered by cranberry juice is attributed to the presence of polyphenolic compounds within the fruit. Studies have suggested that regular consumption of cranberry juice inhibits the development and spread of lung, breast, colon, prostate, and other cancers. Cranberry juice contains a high amount of salicylic acid which can help reduce swelling, prevent blood clots, and eliminate tumors.
Cranberries also contain phytonutrients. This gives them an anti-inflammatory property. Inflammation plays a role in damaging blood vessels over time. The damaged vessels then attract plaque, causing atherosclerosis.
Phytonutrients in cranberries could help guard against inflammation, delaying the process and offering protection against heart disease.
There is also some evidence that cranberry juice can help to prevent dental plaque that builds up on teeth and causes gum disease.
Prevents Tooth Decay
According to new research studies, cranberry juice prevents tooth cavities. Proanthocyanidins, a chemical compound present in cranberries, inhibits harmful bacteria from clinging to teeth. These components inhibit acid production and protect the teeth from periodontal diseases by preventing the growth of plaque. Good oral hygiene, along with the consumption of cranberries, disrupts the pathogenic mechanism of dental caries and generally makes for good dental health. At the same time, one should watch out for the soaring sugar content and the acidity of some commercially available cranberry juices – natural juice is always better!
Protect Against Cancer
Cranberries also contain powerful phytochemicals that act as antioxidants. Antioxidants help to protect your body from cell damage due to free radicals. Free radicals contribute to the aging process and may also be risk factors for developing chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Research published in the Journal of Nutrition found that cranberries might have a role in preventing cancer through dietary changes.
Avoids Respiratory Infections
According to conducted studies, cranberry juice helps inhibit certain strains of the Haemophilus influenza, which is a common cause of ear and respiratory infections in children. The juice inhibits the bacteria’s hair-like structures, inhibiting them from adhering to the surface of the skin.
Improve Digestive Health
The same compounds that help protect the heart also improve your digestive system function.
They can prevent the bacteria, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), from growing and multiplying in the stomach lining. This is important because when H. pylori are allowed to grow out of control, stomach ulcers may form.
The antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory substances in cranberries may provide protection against colon cancer, too.
Strengthens Bones and Teeth
Although cranberry juice is a natural source of calcium, many juice companies add extra calcium to cranberry juice. Natural or otherwise, calcium reduces the risk of getting osteoporosis.
Fresh cranberry juice is effective in fighting infections. It cures sore throats and colds.
Cranberry juice is rich in organic acids, which have an emulsifying effect on the fat deposits in our body. So, it is good for people who want to shed those extra kilos.
Prevents Kidney Stones
The high amount of acid components in cranberry juice prevent kidney stone formation.
Deficiency of vitamin C in an individual can result in scurvy.  Cranberries provide high levels of vitamin C, which is also vital for the body to make collagen, the main component responsible for the healthy functioning of tissues.
Treats Lung inflammation
The anti-inflammatory effects of cranberry juice have been proven to be effective against the inflammation caused in the lungs by the influenza virus. A substance called nondialyzable material or NDM present in cranberries prevent the influenza virus from sticking to the cells, hence preventing a flu infection.
The USDA scientists at the human research center suggest that the wealth of phytonutrients and antioxidants present in cranberries play a vital role in providing protection against the problems that develop with age, such as memory loss and lack of coordination. Cranberries have a multitude of therapeutic properties that protect the cells from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals that contribute to aging, thereby making the skin look younger.
Choice Your Juice Wisely
When you’re looking for healthy cranberry juice, it’s important not to fall for labeling traps. There’s a big difference between cranberry juice cocktail (or cranberry drink) and real cranberry juice.
Juice cocktails contain added sugars like high fructose corn syrup. This isn’t good for you. These cocktails are often made with only a small amount of actual cranberry juice.
Look for labels that say “made with 100 percent real juice” or that list other natural sweeteners like apple or grape juice.
Side Effects of Cranberry Juice
Cranberry is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth appropriately. Cranberry juice and cranberry extracts have been used safely in people. However, drinking too much cranberry juice can cause some side effects such as mild stomach upset and diarrhea. Drinking more than 1 liter per day for a long period of time might increase the chance of getting kidney stones.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking cranberry for therapeutic reasons if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
- Children: Cranberry juice is LIKELY SAFE for children when taken by mouth as a food or drink.
- Aspirin allergy: Cranberries contain significant amounts of salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is similar to aspirin. Avoid drinking large quantities of cranberry juice if you are allergic to aspirin.
- Inflammation of the stomach lining (Atrophic gastritis): Cranberry juice might increase how much vitamin B12 the body absorbs for people with atrophic gastritis.
- Diabetes: Some cranberry juice products are sweetened with extra sugar. If you have diabetes, stick with cranberry products that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners.
- Low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria). Cranberry juice might increase how much vitamin B12 the body absorbs for people with low levels of stomach acid.
- Kidney stones: Cranberry juice and cranberry extracts contain a large amount of a chemical called oxalate. In fact, there is some evidence that some cranberry extract tablets can boost the level of oxalate in the urine by as much as 43%. Since kidney stones are made primarily from oxalate combined with calcium, healthcare providers worry that cranberry might increase the risk of kidney stones. To be on the safe side, avoid taking cranberry extract products or drinking a lot of cranberry juice if you have a history of kidney stones.
Cranberry juice can be a healthy part of your diet, and even help protect against certain health issues. But it’s not a substitute for treating a medical condition. If you think you have a UTI, go see your doctor.
Normal serving sizes of cranberry juice are safe and healthy, but overdoing it could cause side effects like upset stomach, diarrhea, or spikes in blood sugar.
Cranberry juice can also cause issues for people taking blood-thinning medications. Talk to your doctor about whether or not you should limit or avoid cranberry juice while taking your medication.