Cranberry Goodness

cranberries

Cranberries are not only good for their protection again Urine Tract Infections (UTI), but also for your teeth, heart, ulcers and are anti-aging. With all these benefits the fruit is definitely not just for Christmas.

Cranberries help maintain a Healthy Urinary Tract – they contain proanthocyanidins (PACs) which can prevent the adhesion of certain of bacteria, including E. coli, which is the bacteria largely responsible for urinary tract infections, from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract wall. The chemicals in cranberry juice flush the E. Coli from the body during urination thus it is not able to cause an infection. The anti-adhesion properties of cranberry may also inhibit the bacteria associated with gum disease and stomach ulcers. Yay.

There are reports that cranberry juice’s help in preventing cystitis is minimal. However, Cranberry products (such as tablets or capsules) are considered not significantly different to antibiotics for preventing UTIs (Cochrane report); therefore they had the same effect as taking antibiotics. Taking too many antibiotics could weaken your own immune system and may cause bacteria or viruses to become resistant to those very same antibiotics. Many women have testified to the healing powers of cranberries, saying it not only helps cure painful bladder infections, including cystitis, but also helps prevent future outbreaks as well.

cranberries in handThe difference in taking juice or products is that the health benefits of cranberries are almost totally depleted when generous amounts of sugar are added, inhibiting cranberries ability to provide its full phytonutrient benefits. Natural cranberry juice is quite sour, so sugar is added. To get the full benefits of cranberries, drink a sugar-free cranberry juice, or use cranberry products. The best would be to eat fresh or eat dried cranberries, which are rich in fiber as well.

Cranberries help prevent Kidney Stones – they contain quinic acid which prevents calcium and specific phosphate chemicals from binding together, which is what forms kidney stones.

Good for your Teeth – A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that a unique cranberry juice component, a high-molecular-weight nondialysable material (NDM), has the ability to reverse and inhibit the coaggregation of certain oral bacteria responsible for dental plaque and periodontal disease in vitro. It has been suggested that cranberry juice be used as a mouthwash, but make sure you use a sugar-free variety, as the sugared ones will work against good oral hygiene by promoting tooth decay.

Cranberries and cranberry products contain significant amounts of antioxidants and other phytonutrients that may help protect against heart disease, cancer and other diseases – Antioxidants are compounds that are naturally manufactured by the body and/or

heart-cranberries- are ingested which have the ability to stabilize free radicals by donating an electron, and at the same time, do not become free radicals themselves. The human body’s ability to produce antioxidants can become severely impaired under conditions of stress. These can be found in fruits and vegetables, which serve as a good source of supplemental antioxidants. Cranberries are a rich source of the flavonoid quercetin which can inhibit the development of both breast and colon cancers.

Good for you Heart and bad Cholesterol rates– Flavonoids have been shown to function as potent antioxidants to reduce the risk of arteriosclerotic vascular disease. Cranberries contain significant amounts of flavonoids and polyphenolic compounds that have been demonstrated to inhibit bad cholesterol.

Reduces the bacteria associated with Peptic Stomach Ulcers – Peptic ulcers are increasingly being attributed to infection by Helicobacter pylori bacteria, as opposed to stress and/or stomach acidity. A constituent of cranberry juice has been shown to inhibit the adhesion of H. pylori to human gastric mucus in vitro.10 These preliminary results suggest that cranberry may be beneficial in the prevention of peptic ulcers through the inhibition of H. pylori adhesion to gastric mucus and stomach epithelium. In addition to ulcers, H. pylori infection has been linked to gastric adenocarcinomas (stomach cancer), non-ulcer dyspepsia (acid reflux disease), and gastritis (inflammation of the stomach).

Anti-Aging – Preliminary studies by USDA scientists at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University researching diets high in antioxidants and other phytonutrients have suggested that diets containing fruit and vegetables with high Oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) values, the ability of a substance to subdue oxygen free radicals, may provide protection against chronic age-related afflictions like loss of coordination and memory. Cranberries score high on the antioxidant scale at 1750 ORAC units per 100 g (about 3.5 oz.) of fresh fruit.

 

Note that previously there was a scare that cranberries may interfere with the ‘warfarin’ medication. Warfarin is a highly potent drug, and the diets of warfarin patients must be monitored and regulated meticulously, incase they alter the balance of vitamin K in the body, thereby affecting the body’s response to warfarin. Therefore, patients concerned about potential warfarin or any other medication interactions with cranberries should consult their physicians before making any changes to their drug regimens or their diet.

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References & Further Reading:

The Cochrane Collaboration – Cranberries for Preventing Urinary Tract Infections

The Cranberry Institute – Cranberries for Preventing Urinary Tract Infections (Review)

The Health Benefits of Cranberries

 
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