The Best of the Bog: The Health Benefits of Cranberries

Is it possible for a glass of fruit juice to make a difference in your overall health and wellness? You may think of grabbing some orange juice to supplement your vitamin C intake, but it turns out there is another juice on the grocery store shelves that has far-reaching health benefits.

With benefits across the spectrum from improving cardiovascular health to preventing infections and even helping prevent or delay cognitive decline, cranberry juice turns out to be one of the healthiest juices you can drink.

Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice

Perhaps it is not surprising to discover that there is some difference between sweetened and unsweetened cranberry juice when it comes to the health benefits on offer. Many cranberry products are loaded up with added sugar, as the tart flavor of cranberries is less popular than the sugary fruit juices most Americans are familiar with. Cranberry juice cocktail, for instance, does carry some of the health benefits of cranberries, but more sugar is coming along for the ride than with a glass of pure cranberry juice. 

Pure cranberry juice is a naturally low-calorie beverage, and one that is packed with a host of nutrients. A short list of the vitamins and minerals you can get from cranberries includes:

  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
  • ​vitamin K1
  • copper
  • vitamin B6
  • calcium

One of the greatest benefits of cranberries comes from their high levels of anthocyanins. These polyphenols are part of a family of compounds containing flavonoids, of which anthocyanins are some of the most commonly recognized. These chemicals, which are found in high concentrations in fruits and vegetables with dark purple, red, or blue coloring have been found to have wide-ranging positive effects on your health. Blueberries, currants, and blackberries all fall into this category.

Everything from heart health to immune system function to memory has been linked to consuming high levels of flavonoids. As powerful antioxidants, flavonoids help fight the oxidative stress associated with free radicals. Oxidative stress is known to be a component of many kinds of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, dementia, and many other conditions. 

What Infections Does Cranberry Juice Help?

One of the most commonly recognized health benefits of drinking cranberry juice is helping to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) since cranberries contain compounds known as proanthocyanidins. There is some evidence that these naturally occurring chemicals can help prevent damaging bacteria from forming in the lining of the urinary tract. It should be noted, however, that there is mixed evidence surrounding the claim that cranberry juice can help prevent UTIs, as that research is still ongoing. 

Cranberries can also help with your gastrointestinal health. Research has shown that the same antimicrobial properties that help prevent E. coli urinary tract infections can also provide some defense against Helicobacter pylori infections, which are one of the leading causes of stomach ulcers. Given that there can be side effects to treating H. pylori or E. coli infections with drugs, the prospect of a glass of cranberry juice helping to control infections is a very tantalizing prospect.

What Happens if You Drink Cranberry Juice Every Day?

For most people, cranberry juice is a great addition to their daily diet. The general wellness benefits of drinking cranberry juice include lowering your chances of UTIs and upset stomach, lowering your cholesterol levels, and reducing your risk of heart disease.

There are some people, though, who should exercise caution with drinking cranberry juice daily. Individuals on blood thinners and those who are prone to kidney stones should moderate their intake of cranberry juice to avoid potential negative complications. 

Taking Care with Cranberries

As with everything in life, all good things can be harmful in certain circumstances. There is mixed clinical evidence that people who are taking blood thinners like warfarin should exercise caution when it comes to cranberry products. 

Individuals who have known risk factors for kidney stones should exercise caution with cranberry products. This particularly applies to dietary supplements derived from cranberries, as they can contain higher amounts of oxalate, which is a common component of kidney stones.

Cranberries in Food and Beverage Production

With only a short harvest season in some geographically limited regions, most of us are not going to have ready access to fresh cranberries much of the time. This is where not from concentrate (NFC) or concentrated cranberry juice products enter the picture. 

The powerful health benefits of cranberries can be added to a wide range of beverages and foods by including juices and concentrates into beverage mixtures of all kinds. Even if fresh cranberries are not on the menu for most of us, FruitSmart’s cranberry seeds, fiber, and seed powder can add benefits in both nutrition and flavor to keep your customers happy even as tastes change. 

As with all the products we provide at FruitSmart, our cranberry juice, concentrate, essence, and fruit solid products are sourced from trusted growers who can provide us with the highest quality produce. This allows us to provide our partners juices, concentrates, and other products full of the flavors and nutrition that help to create stand-out final products on menus and grocery store shelves. If you are ready to learn more about what partnering with FruitSmart could mean for your product line, contact FruitSmart today. 

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