Cranberry Juice: Are There Health Benefits?

While not as popular as other juices, such as orange or apple, cranberry juice has many surprising health benefits. It is packed full of vitamins and antioxidants and is directly related to the prevention of some infections, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs). Drinking cranberry juice regularly is associated with other disease prevention and may relieve high blood pressure and lower cholesterol. It is also associated with heart health, and most healthy adults can incorporate it into their daily diet.

Fresh cranberries are scientifically known as Vaccinium oxycoccos or Vaccinium macrocarpon and are typically grown in the United States and Canada, with the U.S. being the highest producer of cranberries in the world. They are closely related to blueberries. Throughout history, cranberries have been naturopathically used to treat issues such as liver problems, stomach upset, and urinary problems.

Eating jellied or fresh cranberries is well-associated with Thanksgiving, as cranberry sauce perfectly complements the Thanksgiving turkey, but most who regularly use cranberries in their diet drink cranberry juice as opposed to other cranberry products. However, all types of cranberries are associated with improving cardiovascular health and preventing infections, such as UTIs. Read on to learn more about the health benefits of cranberry juice, possible side effects, and if cranberry is a good choice for you.

Good Source of Vitamins C and E

To reap all the health benefits of cranberry juice, look for a fruit juice that doesn’t contain added sugar and is labeled unsweetened cranberry juice. Pure cranberry juice has all of the health benefits, while other fruit juices and juice blends may not. It’s always important to look at the label when shopping. Opting for juice concentrates, such as the cranberry juice FruitSmart has, offers all of the proanthocyanidins, polyphenols, and antioxidants of fresh cranberries and cranberry juice, and allows you to store juices longer, use them in recipes, and enjoy them at your convenience.

That said, unsweetened cranberry juice and concentrate are terrific daily sources of vitamins C and E. A glass of cranberry juice is equal to 26 percent of your daily value of vitamin C, and 20 percent of your vitamin E daily value. Vitamin C and E are both powerful antioxidants that offer overall health benefits, such as immune system protection and heart health. Vitamin C is linked with the prevention of cancer, promotion of heart health, production of collagen, and boosts the immune system. Vitamin E is also associated with heart health and healthy skin.

Other important antioxidant compounds that cranberry juice has include: myricetin, peonidin, anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, and quercetin. These are most powerful in the skin of cranberries (note: opt for homemade cranberry sauce next year as opposed to the jellied variety!) but still have therapeutic levels in fruit juice. Some other vitamins and minerals present in cranberry juice include:

  • vitamin K1 (11 percent of your DV)
  • copper (15 percent of your DV)
  • vitamin B6 (8 percent of your DV)

Calcium and potassium are present in pure cranberry juice as well.

Prevents Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Clinical research is mixed when it comes to cranberry juice and the development of urinary tract infections (UTIs), however, cranberry juice has long been used as preventative medicine in naturopathy to prevent UTIs. It is thought that the A-type proanthocyanidins found in cranberry juice prevent Escherichia coli (E.coli) from residing in the urinary tract or in the walls of the bladder. E.coli bacteria is one of the most common reasons that a patient would develop a UTI. In theory, because the proanthocyanidins prevent E.coli formation, then an infection cannot develop.

It’s important to seek medical advice, but for most people, they can safely drink cranberry juice or take a cranberry supplement in the hopes of preventing urinary tract infections. However, it’s imperative to keep in mind that once a UTI develops, it requires medical attention. Cranberry juice unfortunately cannot “flush” the infection out of your system—the treatment for UTIs is a certain class of antibiotics.

Rich in Antioxidants

You may often hear that a food is “rich in antioxidants,” but what does that really mean? Antioxidants help prevent cell damage by free radicals, which means they play a part in preventing heart disease and may help slow the aging process. The presence of too many free radicals in the body is associated with the development of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes and also plays a role in the urinary tract and digestive health.

A recent study found that cranberries, along with dietary changes, may help prevent cancer. Cranberries particularly have phytochemicals that act as antioxidants. These are vitamins C and E as well as quercetin. It’s important to remember that antioxidants alone can’t prevent cancer or other diseases but they can play an important role in preventative health along with other measures.

Promotes Heart Health

Cranberries and pure cranberry juice also contain phytonutrients, which have anti-inflammatory properties for the body. It is thought that cranberries can help protect against inflammation of the blood vessels, including plaque in the arteries, which can cause atherosclerosis. Polyphenols in cranberry juice are associated with an increase in antioxidants in blood plasma, and other studies have shown that regularly ingesting cranberry juice or cranberry juice concentrate could help patients who had existing coronary heart disease.

Improves Digestive Health

Phytochemicals are an important factor when it comes to the health benefits of cranberry juice. In addition to boosting the immune system and promoting heart health, cranberries can also play a vital role in digestive health. Studies have reported that ingesting cranberry juice can help limit the production of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in the stomach. Having H. pylori in the gut is normal; however, having too much of the bacteria can cause stomach ulcers to form. While more research is needed, a diet high in phytochemicals can help with overall gut, digestive function, and digestive health.

Other Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice

More research is needed on the side effects and health benefits of cranberry juice, however, cranberry juice can also play an important role in other conditions. Cranberry juice may help:

  • prevent kidney stones
  • fight against tooth decay
  • aid in weight loss, with other dietary changes
  • lower blood sugar

The low amount of carbohydrates and high concentration of polyphenols in unsweetened cranberry juice is a viable option for sugar control for those with diabetes, particularly when compared to other fruit juices.

Side Effects of Cranberry Juice

While adding unsweetened cranberry juice or juice concentrate into your diet can be a benefit for most, always seek medical advice before you change your diet or exercise regimen. There is some research of note that reports ingesting cranberry juice can interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners like warfarin. Cranberry juice may also interact with other medications, including some antibiotics. Consult your healthcare provider before taking cranberry juice if you take:

  • flurbiprofen
  • diclofenac
  • tizanidine
  • cyclosporine
  • midazolam
  • cefaclor
  • amoxicillin

You may not have to avoid cranberry juice entirely, but your physician may want to monitor your intake of cranberry products along with certain medications you may be taking.

Choose Your Juice Wisely

There are many cranberry juice options and blends on the market, but it is imperative to choose your juice wisely as not all cranberry juice is created the same. You’ll most commonly find “cranberry juice cocktail,” which actually contains a small amount of cranberry juice and unhealthy sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup.

You can always shop with confidence with products such as FruitSmart’s cranberry juice concentrates and other fruit concentrates. We use all parts of the berry, including the skin, in our products, so you can maximize the health benefits associated with fresh cranberries.

Unless it’s the holiday season, it can be difficult to find fresh cranberries year-round, and still, you must trust your source. We source all of our fruits from our trusted growers to deliver the highest-quality fruit product to you. Cranberry juice concentrate is great for juice but can also be added to hard seltzers, non-alcoholic seltzers, cocktail mixes, kombuchas, and much more. Cranberry juice concentrate can provide you with all the health benefits of cranberry juice and cranberry products while offering the assurance that you’re consuming high-quality cranberries harvested from the best growers possible.

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