Cranberries are small red berries, tangy in taste. The berries are a treat for the taste buds packed with a sweet and sour flavor. Their juice is bright red in color which is healthy due to being loaded with antioxidants and nutrients. Unsweetened juice may taste a little sour but it is advised to dilute the juice with water before drinking. Cranberries contain vitamin K, C, B6, and E along with calcium, manganese, protein, and flavonoids (1). Cranberry juice benefits are in abundance. Apart from the health and beauty benefits cranberry has, it is used in making beverages and other food products. The benefits offered by cranberry are enlisted below.
Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice
1. Prevents Urinary Tract Infections
This is one of the numerous health benefits of cranberry juice. Urinary tract infection occurs due to the presence of certain microorganisms. These microorganisms can lead to an infection developing in the bladder causing cystitis. Cranberry juice contains proanthocyanidins that prevent the bacteria from getting attached to a cell on the walls of the bladder (2). These compounds inhibit further growing and multiplying of the bacteria and remove them from the body through urination. Regular consumption of cranberry juice stops the occurrence of UTIs in the middle-aged women. Cranberry’s PACs inhibit the expansion of bacterial population and adhesion of E.coli bacteria, one of the most pathogenic bacteria, protecting from infections (3).
2. Anti-Tumor Effects and Cancer Prevention
Cranberries loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties are ideal for preventing cancer. Cranberry juice contains phenolic compounds that work as great antioxidants (4). These antioxidants protect the body from lung, colon, breast, prostate and other cancerous tumors. The juice contains salicylic acid in high concentrations that helps get rid of the tumors, reduces swelling and blood clots. Chronic excessive oxidative stress and excess of inflammation are the main factors responsible for cancer.
3. Maintains Cardiovascular Health
The presence of flavonoids in cranberry juice increases its antioxidant activity and lowers the risk of heart diseases. It is particularly beneficial in curing atherosclerosis, a disease in which the fat, calcium and cholesterol in the blood reduce the width of arteries. Narrowing of arteries decreases the supply of oxygen-rich blood to various parts of the body resulting in dangerous consequences like heart attacks and strokes. Flavonoids inhibit the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDP) (5). Intake of cranberry juice hinders the production of enzymes that play an important part in causing atherosclerosis.
4. Protects from Tooth Cavities
The presence of proanthocyanidins in the berry prevents the harmful bacteria from getting attached to the teeth. These compounds hinder acid production and inhibit the formation of plaque. Thus, protecting the teeth from periodontal disease and tooth cavities (6). Regular intake of cranberries promotes dental care and oral hygiene.
Note: Abstain from the commercially available cranberry juices sweetened with sugar. Go for natural juice.
5. Avoid Respiratory Infections
Haemophilus influenza is responsible for causing respiratory and ear infections in young kids. The juice helps prevent the hair-like structure of bacteria from getting attached to the surface of the skin. It protects the body from all sorts of respiratory infections (7).
6. Strengthens Bones
Cranberry juice is packed with a high concentration of calcium (8). Still, some manufacturers equip it with extra calcium. Calcium is the building block of bones and teeth. Therefore, it strengthens bones and prevents deadly disease like osteoporosis.
7. Cures Peptic Ulcers
Peptic ulcers occur due to the bacteria, helicobacter pylori. These bacteria cause damage to the protective layer of the stomach and duodenum. Substances rich in flavonoids, a class that includes flavonols, anthocyanins like cranberries decreases the risk of stomach problems like ulcers by suppressing the growth of H. Pylori bacteria (9). Doctors suggest regular consumption of cranberry juice to guard your body against such ailments.
8. Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory Agent
Cranberry juice contains an anti-inflammatory compound that makes it anti-infectious (10). It is beneficial in protecting the body from the inflammation caused in the lungs by the influenza virus. Cranberries contain nondialyzable material (NDM) that prevents influenza from clinging to the cells, shielding the body against the flu or infection. COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes are main culprits that are involved in the production of pro-inflammatory messaging molecules. Cytokines are the messaging molecules, pro-inflammatory cytokines instruct our system for an inflammatory response. The phytonutrients present in cranberry suppress these enzymes and their activity. Consumption of cranberry is effective in reducing inflammation arising in the large intestine, stomach, and cardiovascular system.
9. Anti-Aging Benefits
The presence of phytonutrients and antioxidants in cranberries play a key role in defending your body against the problems that develop due to aging such as coordination impairment and memory loss. Symptoms of cognitive impairment include poor planning, language difficulties and inattention (11). As cranberry is rich in these nutrients it delays the onset of aging problems.
10. Aids in Digestion
Cranberries contain a lot of fiber (12) that helps stomach function smoothly. Almost all the nutrients present in cranberry play a vital role in digestive tract support. A research has shown that regular intake of cranberry juice (2 ounces for 3 months) increased the number of bifidobacteria (friendly bacteria that aid in digestion). Along with this, the presence of other phytonutrients increases the digestive benefits associated with the fruit.
11. Healthy Pregnancy
A research carried out by the University of Maryland suggests that vitamin C taken along with vitamin E prevents pre-eclampsia (13). It is a condition that increases blood pressure and protein and might even result in a premature birth. As cranberries contain a substantial amount of vitamin C, they can be beneficial for a healthy pregnancy.
12. Immunity Booster
Daily consumption of cranberry juice decreases the chances of getting a cold or flu. Polyphenols, strong antioxidants, guard the body against free radicals (14). Cranberries contain manganese, vitamin K and many nutrients that possess anti-inflammatory and cancer inhibiting properties. Cranberry juice is effective in fighting against cold and infections like sore throats and lower their frequency. Ample amount of vitamin C guards the body against developing scurvy and enhances the immunity.
13. Antioxidant Support
The antioxidants found in the cranberry are the main contributors for the health support. Cranberry consists of phenols, flavonoids (15), anthocyanin, triterpenoid, proanthocyanidin antioxidants. In addition to this, resveratrol, pterostilbene and piceatannol are other antioxidant nutrients found in cranberry. This antioxidant combination promotes the health and beauty of an individual.
14. Cranberry Juice for Yeast Infection
Yeast infections occur due to a group of fungi known as candida. The fungus multiplies rapidly leading to an infection. Cranberry juice eliminates yeast infection and regulates the pH level of the vagina and urine (16).
Note: Go for an unsweetened juice for eliminating infections as sugary juice can worsen the condition.
15. Cranberry Juice for Scalp Infections
Scalp infection is mostly transmitted through combs and hair brushes (17). The infection can be a simple boil or antibiotic resistant infection. Cranberry juice is antimicrobial and antiseptic by nature. The juice can be mixed with egg yolk and can be applied to the hair. It will nourish the hair and cure dandruff along with scalp infections.
16. Cranberry juice for Staph Infections
Staph infection occurs due to staphylococcus bacteria. Most of the times infections start with a simple cut that get infected with bacteria. Cranberry juice has proved to block the bacteria. The urine samples of the subjects who consumed cranberry juice drastically reduced the ability of the bacteria to form biofilms (18).
17. Treats Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis is the inflammation of the vagina that occurs due to the uncontrolled amount of anaerobes (19). The acidic nature of cranberry cures and reduces the infection in the vagina. A cup of cranberry juice every day is enough to drive away bacterial vaginosis.
18. Cranberry Juice for Weight Loss
Weight loss is a tough job to accomplish. Vigorous exercises and cutting out on food requires a strong determination. Cranberry juice is effective in treating obesity. The polyphenols present in the juice (20) inhibit the new fat formation and oxidizes the old fat. A research carried out has shown the people who consumed cranberry juice showed a considerable decrease in weight and body mass index.
Beauty Benefits of Cranberry Juice
19. Keeps Skin Healthy
Cranberry juice is an excellent toner for the skin. It clears clogged pores and frees your skin of oils. The signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines can be counteracted effectively by the use of cranberry juice. The presence of vitamin C aids in the production of collagen and elastin which retains the youthful glow of skin (21). Cranberry skin toner can be prepared by mixing equal quantities of cranberry juice, rose water and witch hazel.
20. Cures Aging Skin
Cranberries have loads of healing properties that guards the body against free radicals. Benefits of cranberry juice for skin are many as it is a powerhouse of nutrients. Free radicals are the main cause for the dull and wrinkled skin as they cause the functional and cellular damage (22). Cranberries retain youthful glow of the skin by fixing these radicals.
21. Prevents Acne
Cranberry is great in curing acne. Cranberry face mask can be prepared by mashing cranberry and adding honey and a teaspoon of a nutmeg to form a fine paste. This reduces any kind of inflammation and brightens the dull skin. Being acidic in nature, it reduces the oil content. The antimicrobial properties of cranberry hamper the free radicals (23).
22. Promotes Hair Growth
Cranberry juice can be helpful to promote the growth of hair as it contains vitamin A and C. Vitamin A protects the hair follicle cells from the damage caused by free radicals (24). The vitamin reduces hair loss and keeps your hair shinier and thicker. Vitamin A stimulates the production of sebum that maintains the moisture of hair and protects them from drying and breaking off.
Rinsing your hair with a mixture of cranberry juice and apple cider vinegar will impart shine and strength to them. Along with that, it removes oil from the hair and gives them a fresh radiance. Particularly those people who have red hair can give a boost to the color through cranberry juice.
Note: Too much amount of vitamin A can result in hair loss. Do not consume more than 25,000 IU in a day.
1) Those patients who intake warfarin should not consume cranberry as it may lead to excessive bleeding. Warfarin is a blood thinner that reduces the chances of blood clots as they can lead to cardiovascular disorders.
2) Cranberry juice contains a high level of salicylic acid. The acid is present in aspirin too. Consumption of cranberries should be restricted if you are allergic to aspirin.
3) Cranberry juice is rich in calcium and oxalate. This increases the chances of developing uric acid and calcium oxalate stones. People who have a history of kidney stones must consult a doctor before taking cranberry juice.