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Cranberries & Immunity: Research shows health benefits of cranberries Full of antioxidants, can cut bad cholesterol and fight infections
  AP updated 11/20/2006

Cranberries are among the top foods with proven health benefits, according to Amy Howell, a researcher at Rutgers University.

Cranberries are full of antioxidants, which protects cells from damage by unstable molecules called free radicals.

The National Institutes of Health is funding research on the cranberry's effects on heart disease, yeast infections and other conditions, and other researchers are investigating its potential against cancer, stroke and viral infections.

So far, research has found:

· Drinking cranberry juice can block urinary infections by binding to bacteria so they can't adhere to cell walls. While women often drink unsweetened cranberry juice to treat an infection, there's no hard evidence that works.

· A compound Howell discovered in cranberries, proanthocyanidine, prevents plaque formation on teeth; mouthwashes containing it are being developed to prevent periodontal disease.

· In some people, regular cranberry juice consumption for months can kill the H. pylori bacteria, which can cause stomach cancer and ulcers.

Preliminary research also shows:

· Drinking cranberry juice daily may increase levels of HDL, or good cholesterol and reduce levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol.

· Cranberries may prevent tumors from growing rapidly or starting in the first place.

· Extracts of chemicals in cranberries prevent breast cancer cells from multiplying in a test tube; whether that would work in women is unknown.


Cranberry Juice Benefits

If you search on the web looking for the benefits of cranberry juice, the first thing you'll notice is that there are many websites dedicated to the benefits of cranberry juice and the second thing you'll notice is that there are millions of other web pages which tell many different kind of benefits of cranberry juice. One wonders: why there is so much fuss about cranberry juice especially and not other fruit juices. Why is it so special? And what makes it so special? Let's try to answer these questions and then also list down some of the authentic and proven benefits of cranberry juice.


Cranberries are grown on vines, or as shrubs in the wild. Cranberries are red (bright) in color and have a large tart but somewhat bitter taste. A cup full of cranberries has approximately about 50 calories. Besides, it is rich in antioxidants which are beneficial for the body in numerous ways. It is also a brilliant source of vitamin C a very good resource of dietary fiber, and a good source of vitamin K and manganese. Cranberries do not contain any cholesterol and the total fat content is only 0.1 gram, which makes cranberry juice a very low fat, healthy drink.

Now coming to the benefits of cranberry juice:

· The first and most popularly known benefit, especially among women, of cranberries is its ability to prevent and treat urinary tract infection. Generally urinary tract infections happen due to accumulation of E coli bacteria in the bladder. The compounds in the juice block the bacteria from accumulating on the cells in the body, so that the bacteria can be easily flushed out by the body.

· The second important benefit is in keeping the heart healthy. It contains strong antioxidants which help to prevent or correct the damages caused by free radicals. Cranberry juice helps in the increase of good cholesterol in the body and the decrease of bad (LDL) cholesterol. These advantages can be accredited to the existence of polyphenols in cranberry juice.

· The third major benefit of cranberry juice is that it helps in maintaining the dental health of the body. Dental health is a very important aspect for maintenance of one's overall health. Various researches show that cranberry juice contains substances which hinder the growth of bacteria responsible for causing dental plaque, periodontal diseases and cavities. The calcium content in cranberry juice mostly accounts for the dental benefits of the same.


Cranberries Potential health effects

Nutrients and antioxidant capacity

Raw cranberries have moderate levels of vitamin C, dietary fiber and the essential dietary mineral, manganese, as well as a balanced profile of other essential micronutrients.[10]

By measure of the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity with an ORAC score of 9,584 units per 100 g, cranberry ranks near the top of 277 commonly consumed foods in the United States.[11]



Raw cranberries are a source of polyphenol antioxidants, phytochemicals under active research for possible benefits to the cardiovascular system and immune system, and as anti-cancer agents,[13][14] such as in isolated prostate cancer cells.[15] Although polyphenols have antioxidant effects in vitro, they can act as pro-oxidants in others.[clarification needed] In addition, it is uncertain whether polyphenols and flavonoids account for the benefits of diets rich in plant-derived foods.[14]

Cranberry juice contains a high molecular weight non-dializable material that might inhibit formation of plaque by Streptococcus mutans pathogens that cause tooth decay.[16] Cranberry juice components also may possibly influence formation of kidney stones.[17][18]

One study compared cranberries with twenty other fruits, showing that cranberries had a high amount of total polyphenols.[19] Cranberry tannins have laboratory evidence for anti-clotting properties and may prevent recurring urinary tract infections in women.[20] Raw cranberries and cranberry juice are abundant food sources of flavonoids such as proanthocyanidins, flavonols [21] and quercetin.[22][23] These compounds have shown possible activity as anti-cancer agents in vitro.[24][25][26][27][28] However, their effectiveness in humans has not been established, and is limited by poor absorption into cells and rapid excretion.

Potential anti-adhesion properties

There is potential benefit of cranberry juice consumption against bacterial infections in the urinary system. Laboratory research shows that a possible effect may occur from a component of the juice inhibiting bacterial attachment to the bladder and urethra.[29][30][31]

Although promising for anti-bacterial activity, long-term consumption of cranberry juice has not been proven to reduce urinary tract infections in whole populations. However, there is preliminary evidence for possible effects against urinary tract infections in women.[32] Similar applications have not been successfully proven in other clinical trials of consuming cranberry juice or tablets by people with spinal cord injury associated with bladder catheterization, neurogenic bladder or infrequent urination, any of which may be associated with increased susceptibility to bacterial infections.[33][34][35]

Possible contraindications

An autumn 2004 caution from the Committee on Safety of Medicines, the UK agency dealing with drug safety, advised patients taking warfarin not to drink cranberry juice after adverse effects (such as increased incidence of bruising) were reported, possibly resulting from the presence of salicylic acid native to polyphenol-rich plants such as the cranberry. However, during 2006-8, several reviews of case reports and pilot studies have failed to confirm this effect, collectively indicating no statistically significant interaction between daily consumption of 250 mL cranberry juice and warfarin in the general population.[36][37] A gene (VKORC1, CYP2C9) has been shown to change warfarin sensitivity. This gene may also contribute to bruising susceptibility as a result of cranberries for carriers of the gene. A couple of possible cases of Warfarin interaction with cranberry have been reported.[38]

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