By TammyWhite
2 years ago

Learn about cranberry benefits

Health Benefits

Outstanding Phytonutrient Benefits from Cranberries

While cranberries have gotten less attention than other family members in the Ericaceae plant family (for example, blueberries), they more than earn their credentials as phytonutrient-rich foods. Over two dozen health-supportive phytonutrients have been identified in cranberries, with proanthocyanidins and anthocyanins leading the way. These two groups of phytonutrients are interrelated. Proanthocyanidins are larger molecules from which anthocyanins can be made. But they also have health-supportive properties of their own. It is not uncommon to find 150–350 milligrams of proanthocyanidins per fresh cup of cranberries and 15–170 milligrams of anthocyanins. The presence of these phytonutrient groups in cranberries makes itself known to our senses, because both groups help to provide cranberries with their vibrant red color.

The list below summarizes some of the spotlight phytonutrients provided to us by cranberries. Most of the phytonutrients below have been shown to have antioxidant and/or anti-inflammatory properties, in addition to other health benefits.

AnthocyaninscyanidinsdelphinidinsmalvidinspelargonidinspeonidinspetunidinsFlavan-3-olscatechinsepicatechinsFlavonolsisorhamnetinkaempferolmyricetinquercetinHydroxybenzoic acidso-hydroxybenzoic acidp-hydroxybenzoic acidHydroxycinnamic acidscaffeic acidcoumaric acidferulic acidsinapic acidProanthocyanidinsprocyanidinspropelargonidinsprodelphinidinsStilbenoidsresveratrolTanninsellagitanninsTerpenoidsursolic acidhydroxycinnamoyl ursolic acid

Cardiovascular Benefits from Cranberries

Two unwanted conditions in our cardiovascular system—the presence of oxidative stress and the presence of chronic inflammation—are risk factors for a variety of chronic cardiovascular diseases. In this context, it should not be surprising to find cranberries providing us with cardiovascular benefits since these berries are a concentrated source of both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. (It's also worth noting that cranberries are a very good source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin E, two pivotal antioxidant nutrients. And in addition, they are a very good source of the mineral manganese, which is needed for proper function of some forms of the enzyme superoxide dismutase.)

Multiple studies have shown the ability of cranberry consumption to raise the total antioxidant capacity in our bloodstream. For the most part, these studies have involved intake of cranberry juice in amounts of approximately 2–3 cups per day over a period of 2–4 weeks. Similar levels of cranberry juice intake have been shown to decrease blood levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides. In addition, levels of two apolipoproteins (called ApoA and ApoB) have been shown to change following consumption of cranberry juice. (The term "lipoprotein" may be more familiar than many people realize. The letter "L" in the term "LDL cholesterol" and "HDL cholesterol" stands for "lipoprotein." The term "apolipoprotein" refers to are structural component of many lipoproteins that helps them to function properly.) Cranberry juice intake has been shown to decrease levels of ApoB and increase levels of ApoA-1. These changes are the exact ones needed to lower our risk of several cardiovascular diseases including atherosclerosis.

The cardiovascular benefits of cranberry consumption have been also been demonstrated in research participants previously diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome (MetS). MetS is not considered a chronic disease but rather a key risk factor for many chronic diseases—including multiple diseases of the cardiovascular system. Consumption of approximately 2 cups of cranberry juice per day over a period of 8–12 weeks improved virtually all cardiovascular lab results (including the lab results listed above).

Other Potential Health Benefits from Cranberries

In light of their very good fiber content, very low sugar content (in fresh form), and their concentration of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, cranberries might be expected to provide us with health benefits in the area of blood sugar regulation. In general, research studies support this conclusion, although there are a few extenuating factors that prompt us to summarize this area of cranberry research as providing evidence of "potential health benefits." One of these factors is the lack of large-scale human studies. Most of the research that we have reviewed on cranberries and blood sugar has involved rats and mice in a lab setting. However, improved insulin and blood sugar regulation has been a fairly steading finding in these animal studies. We've also seen a cranberry study on persons diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) in which consumption of cranberry juice resulted in lower fasting blood glucose levels. However, what we have not seen is a large-scale study on healthy persons whose risk of blood sugar problems was determined to lower as a result of cranberry intake.

A second factor that partially clouds the research on cranberries and blood sugar regulation is the form in which most U.S. consumers enjoy cranberries—namely, in the form of sweetened juice. It's not uncommon for a commercial cranberry juice to contain 25–30 grams of added sugar per 8 ounces. In addition, dried cranberries are typically sweetened and commonly contain about 8 grams of sugar per tablespoon. Since U.S. consumers overwhelmingly choose these sugar-added forms of cranberries, it can be difficult to separate out the blood sugar benefits of cranberries alone versus these cranberries-plus-sugar combinations.

Since urinary tract infection (UTI) is an individual clinical condition, it falls outside of the research that we do on overall healthy eating. But it is difficult to overlook this condition with respect to cranberries, because for many people, it is one of the first conditions that comes to mind when thinking about cranberries (and especially cranberry juice). While some studies show clear benefits of cranberry intake for UTI, we decided to place this information about cranberry and UTI in our "Potential Health Benefits" section for two reasons.

First, the overall research in this area has shown mixed results. For example, in many less complicated occurrences of UTI, E. coli bacteria serve as the source of the infection, and these bacteria are less able to adhere to cell linings in the urinary tract due to presence of proanthocyanins from cranberry. However, E. coli is not always a primary cause in UTI, and even when E.coli is involved, its involvement may be complicated by many other factors.

Second, while cranberry phytonutrients—including triterpenoids like ursolic acid—are able to decrease activity in inflammatory pathways, these anti-inflammatory properties may be more helpful in some instances of UTI than in others due to the varied circumstances of UTI. In addition, when we evaluate studies on the anti-inflammatory properties of foods, we always like to see studies on the whole foods themselves and these studies are largely missing from the research on UTI and cranberries. Most cranberry-UTI studies have used capsules of cranberry powder, cranberry extract, or cranberry juice rather than whole cranberries. For all of these reasons, we consider the cranberry-UTI research to show potential health benefits on a case-by-case type basis rather than across-the-board benefits. Before leaving the topic of cranberry-UTI, it is also worth noting that the limited number of studies showing positive results with the use of cranberry juice and fresh berries have generally utilized 1–2 cups of juice or berries per day over the course of 1–12 months.
2 years
soncee Nice
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Violeta Nice
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LiaF7 Ty for info :)
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Unanenna Great
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raaman Highly informative article.