Cranberry juice is a versatile health drink. Its benefits include prevention of urinary tract and other infections, reduction in heart diseases and certain cancers. It also promotes better digestion.
Cranberry juice is capable of healing peptic ulcers and other digestive disorders too in some cases.
It prevents tooth decay and improves overall dental health. An antioxidant called ellagic acid helps to deal with oxidative stresses to prevent many chronic conditions.
What is Cranberry Juice?
Cranberry juice is extracted from cranberries. The cranberry plant with Latin name Vaccinium macrocarpon is native fruit of North America.
Cranberries rich in antioxidants and other phytonutrients belong to blueberries and huckleberries family with tart taste. Therefore, it is not a pleasant feeling to eat raw cranberries. Even the sweetened cranberries retain some of the tart taste. Drinking cranberry juice is the most convenient way to consume it.
How to Use Cranberry Juice ?
You can use cranberry juice to make various sauces, cocktails and health syrups. A fruit extract of cranberry with or without artificial sweeteners can be preserved for long term uses. Dilute it and drink.
You can also use dried cranberry in breakfast cereals and baked goods such as energy bars and muffins. Juice is more popular than dried fruits. Do not consume large amounts of the juice on a regular basis to avoid side effects.
Cranberry Juice Nutrition
Cranberry juice is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Vitamin C, vitamin E, Vitamin K1 and minerals like copper and manganese improve your metabolism and reduce oxidative stresses. It also contains plant compounds or phytonutrients such as quercetin, myricetin, pending ellagic acid and ursolic acid as powerful antioxidants.
Following are some of the main Nutrients according to USDA database.
Cranberry juice, unsweetened Per 100 grams(Calories 46)
- Total Fat 0.1 g 0%
- Saturated fat 0 g 0%
- Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g
- Sodium 2 mg 0%
- Potassium 77 mg 2%
- Total Carbohydrate 12 g 4%
- Dietary fiber 0.1 g 0%
- Sugar 12 g
- Protein 0.4 g 0%
- Vitamin C 15%
- Iron 1%
- Vitamin B-6 5%
- Magnesium 1%
(All are % Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs)
Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice
It has an unusual taste but you can't ignore the following health benefits of cranberry juice.
1. Cranberry Juice Cures and Prevents (UTI) Urinary Tract Infections
Cranberry Juice is a hugely popular natural remedy for UTI. Most scientific studies provide only preliminary evidence on its usefulness but it is still widely used. According to one such study it is useful to prevent UTI.
When concentration of micro-organism which already reside in the urinary tract and the bladder increases above their normal level a urinary tract infection occurs.
New research suggests that the antibiotic substance called proanthocyanidins in the cranberry does not allow the bacteria to multiply in the bladder. This stops urinary tract and bladder infections.
Cranberry juice acidifies the urine and prevents bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall. The quinic acid in the cranberry does the job of acidifying.
So cranberry juice is a double action remedy for urinary tract infection .
Doctors suggest drinking 8 ounces of cranberry juice daily two times, one in the morning and other in the evening, to protect urinary tract infection for 24 hours. If you continue this routine to drink cranberry juice for a week then you will get rid of your urinary tract infection and you will not have to take harmful antibiotics.
2. Protects From Cancer
Many scientific studies around the globe have found cranberry to be protective against certain cancers such as breast, colon, prostate, head, and neck cancers.
In the laboratory tests, scientists have found that one of the component of cranberries ellagic acid has shown to help prevent mutations in DNA. It also helps to prevent tumors from growing.
The most useful discovery about ellagic acid is that if fights carcinogens before and after the tumor is formed. It prevents the carcinogens from entering the cells as well as even if they have already entered the cells it stops the cells from becoming cancerous. Drink 8 ounces of unsweetened cranberry juice daily.
3. Prevents Heart Diseases
Cranberries contain flavonoids that help your heart with its antioxidant properties. Flavonoids are the plant pigments that give yellow and red color to the fruit and vegetables. Antioxidants help block damages from free radicals (free oxygen molecules). These free radicals can cause damage to your heart, can cause cancer and other serious conditions.
The flavonoids in the cranberry juice decrease the threat of atherosclerosis. Arteries get narrowed in Atherosclerosis due to the build-up of fat and cholesterol in the blood. This build-up obstructs the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the various parts of the body which could result in potentially fatal outcomes like heart attacks and strokes. The flavonoids in cranberry juice delay and suppress the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) and avoid their deposits in the blood vessels. According to a study it increases good HDL cholesterol levels.
Out of the many flavonoids cranberries contain, two of the most useful ones are quercetin and myricetin which help prevent damage caused to the blood vessels.
Both these flavonoids also prevent changes in the DNA that could have caused cancers. One glass of cranberry juice daily will potentially protect you from cancers.
4. Heals Peptic Ulcers
Cranberry juice rich in flavonoids reduces the risk of stomach disorders including peptic ulcers. A bacterial called H.pylori (Helicobacter pylori) is generally responsible for peptic ulcers. This microorganism attacks the protective layer of the stomach and duodenum in the large intestine which inflames the stomach lining.
According to a research study Cranberry juice will prevent this damage to occur. If the h.pylori has already attached and caused ulcer, it will reduce the concentration of the microorganism along with other medication to get rid of peptic ulcer. That is why many doctors commonly advise regular intake of cranberry juice to suppress the infection.
Another study published in Advances in Nutrition suggests the impact of cranberry extract on gut microdata due to its effective antimicrobial properties.
5. Treats Respiratory Infections
Respiratory infections such as ear and sinus infections, caused by Haemophilus influenzae, a common problem among children can be prevented and treated well by the regular use of cranberry juice. The flavonoids in the cranberry juice inhibits the bacteria from adhering to the surface of the skin. A 2010 study suggests that it can prevent food based viral infections.
Overall even if you do not have any infection daily use of one glass of unsweetened cranberry juice will help you to remain healthy.
6. Prevents Tooth Decay
Cranberry juice can improve your oral hygiene to prevent tooth cavities. A chemical compound Proanthocyanidins is mainly responsible for this protection. It stops harmful bacteria from clinging to your teeth.
The tart cranberry juice is acidic in nature. According to a research published in Journal of Canadian Dental Association, it prevents growth of plaque. If the plaque is not formed then there will be no cavities. Research summarises the scientific benefits of using Cranberry polyphenols to prevent and treat oral diseases.
7. Helps in Weight Loss
Weight loss is a big challenge for many people. Eating fewer calories and burning more is one of the main methods of losing the extra pounds around your waist.
Cranberry juice which contains many antioxidants is generally good for overall health but there is no clear scientific evidence of it reducing weight.
Interestingly, a Canadian study meant to look at the beneficial impact of Cranberry juice on cholesterol level found its weight loss benefits as well. This is a useful outcome. One of the explanations is drinking cranberry juice instead if soft drinks reduces calorie intake. Another study by National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicates the same impact on weight loss. More direct studies are required to establish it's weight loss benefits.
8. Cures Cold
Are you getting early warning signs of a cold? Try cranberry juice. It will prevent the condition from becoming a fully blown cold episode. It is slightly tart in taste so you may be tempted to add some sweeteners. Don't add anything except water to dilute it.
Simple plain unsweetened cranberry juice without additives will do the job. It is high in antioxidants and vitamin C. Both these nutrients have capacity to fight colds as well as develop immunity.
Drink a glass of the juice 3 times daily after the onset of cold. The antioxidants and vitamin C will aid in speeding up the healing process.
9. Improves Post Menopause Health
You can improve your health during and post menopause by eating the right kind of foods. Cranberries and cranberry juice are some of those right foods.
One of the main problems women face during menopause is reduction in estrogen levels. This leads to frequent urinary tract infection. We have already covered above how cranberry juice is good to prevent and cure UTI.
10. Inhibits Tumor Growth
Cranberries are rich in powerful phytochemicals. Some of these nutrients have high antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect from the cell damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals cause faster aging as well as tumor growth.
A study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggests that polyphenolic extracts from cranberries inhibit growth of breast, lung, colon, prostate and other tumors. The phytonutrients preventing cancerous growth include proanthocyanidin, oligomers and triterpenoids extracted from the fruits.
The research findings are encouraging and hopefully further research on the the topic may throw even more light and find a good treatment options for various types of cancers.
11. Strengthen Bones
Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and other bone healthy nutrients. Vitamin C helps bone building in two different ways.
Let us first understand how bone matrix work. The bone building cells Osteoclasts secrete and produce collagen to bind to bone matrix. The whole process requires hydroxylation which occurs in the presence of vitamin C. That is also why when doctors recommend calcium tablets they also recommend vitamin C.
The other nutrients that help bone building are polyphenols. These antioxidants are the plant pigments which give red colour to cranberries. The increase in production of Osteoclasts leading to healthier bones.
A 2014 study reveal a positive association of high berry intake and higher bone mass reducing the risk of age related bone loss.
12. Prevents Scurvy
Scurvy is a disease represented by many conditions together including anaemia, gingivitis, skin hemorrhages and general weakness. It is caused by the lack of vitamin C in the diet. Scurvy is not very common in this modern age.
Cranberry juice with its high vitamin C content is an excellent natural remedy to cure scurvy.
Untreated scurvy can make healing very difficult and can lead to death due to infections and bleeding.
Eat cranberries and drink cranberry juice along with the medicines provided by your doctor.
13. Boosts Immunity
Cranberry juice improves your immunity and keeps the common disorders like cold, flu, bacterial and viral infections at Bay.
If you have weak immune system then start drinking Cranberry juice daily. You can safely consume up to 8 oz daily. Antioxidants like proanthocyanidin and other polyphenols and vitamin C are nutrients of cranberries which boosts immunity.
Viral infections are very common during the start of winter session. This is also the time when you can get fresh Cranberries in North America. Make fresh juice and drink. Avoid sugar or preservatives to improve its tart taste. Diluted with water to reduce the tartness.
14. Prevents Kidney Stones
Cranberry juice has shown positive impact on managing kidney stones caused by calcium oxalate according to a study published in BJUI a leading urological journal.
The study involving 20 people for 14 days divided in two groups. one group was given to hundred ml of tap water daily and the other group was given 500ml cranberry juice diluted with 1500 ml tap water for the same period.
Generally drinking enough water daily is used as preliminary conservative treatment to remove kidney stones. Consuming water diluted Cranberry juice produced significantly better results than drinking water alone.
15. Treats Acne
A combination if Vitamin A, Vitamin C, antioxidants and antiseptic agents present in cranberries help to fight with acne and make your skin smooth.
Cranberries and cranberry juice clear clogged pores and improve skin.
Use sugar and preservative free Cranberry juice to deal with your acne. Make a note, almost all commercially available juices on the shelves have a high amount of sugar. This not only defeats the purpose but also increases acne.
Look at the labels and ensure that the Cranberry juice is sugar free. Your best option is to make it at home and drink it daily.
16. Promotes Hair Growth
Vitamin A and Vitamin C present in cranberries and Cranberry juice promote hair growth. Vitamin C helps in formation of collagen which helps to repair weak hair follicles.
In addition to its hair growth and repair capabilities Cranberry juice also has antiseptic and antifungal properties. You can prevent dandruff psoriasis alopecia and other scalp related skin conditions with cranberry juice.
You can drink it as well as apply it on your scalp to get fast hair growth.
17. Slows Down Skin Aging
Free radicals accumulated in the body are generally responsible for formation of wrinkles in your skin and other age related changes. They cause oxidative stresses that only age you fast but also can lead to other unhealthy conditions including heart disease and cancers.
Antioxidants can delay the wrinkle formation by dealing with oxidative stresses. Consuming natural antioxidants therefore acts as anti aging agents.
Cranberry juice with its high content of vitamin A, vitamin C and polyphenolic antioxidants is very good drink to improve your skin health and look younger.
Side Effects of Cranberry Juice
Cranberries and cranberry juice offer many health benefits, but you should use it in moderation. Be aware of the following side effects:
- Disturbs digestion - Too much of this juice can upset your stomach leading to temporary discomfort of diarrhea.
- Damages tooth enamel - Consume the juice in moderation
- Worsens the intestinal cystitis condition - Avoid consuming Cranberry juice if you are suffering from it.
- Interferes with certain medicines like aspirin and warfarin - Avoid using cranberry juice if you are taking these blood thinners. You may end up with excessive bleeding.
Cranberries are superfoods. Consume them to take advantage of all the health benefits. Eat them raw, add them to delicacies or drink the juice.