Many modern doctors and nutritionists recommend cranberry juice for relief from various health problems. But the health value of cranberries was first discovered by Native Americans. The natives used cranberry extract as a dye for clothing, as food, and even as medicine, especially for treating urinary and bladder problems. The high nutrient and antioxidant content of cranberries puts them on top of the list of health foods. And given that a cup of cranberries contains only 25 calories, it’s easy to understand why most doctors and nutritionists look upon these berries as a “superfood”.
Modern clinical research now confirms that the health benefits of cranberry juice go beyond just urinary and bladder problems. The following list will give you a good idea why cranberry-juice is such a go-to solution for many nutritionists.
1. Heart health
Cranberry juice has been shown to lower the risk of heart-related ailments and play a role in maintaining heart and artery health. Cranberries contain flavonoids that are rich in antioxidant properties. These flavonoids help in reducing the risk of atherosclerosis – a condition where buildup of fat, calcium, and cholesterol in the artery walls causes narrowing of the arteries. Narrow arteries slow down the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the important organs and cause serious problems. For example, if the blood supply to the heart muscle is reduced, it can cause a heart attack. And if the supply to the brain is affected, it could cause a stroke.
2. Dental benefits
In addition to the flavonoids, cranberries contain a chemical compound called proanthocyanidine. According to research studies, this compound helps in the preventing the formation of tooth cavities as it does not allow harmful bacteria to cling to the teeth. Proanthocyanidine also protect the teeth from periodontal disease by inhibiting the production of acid and preventing the growth of plaque. Regular consumption of cranberries/cranberry juice combined with sensible oral hygiene, can play a big role in disrupting the pathogenic activity responsible for dental caries and promotes good dental health. However, it must be noted that many of the bottled cranberry juices are high in sugar content and are also quite acidic. So it’s best to stick to eating the berries or consuming natural juices.
3. Stomach health
Foods like cranberries that are rich in anthocyanins, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins help reduce the risk of stomach disorders. These compounds help prevent stomach ulcers (peptic ulcers) by inhibiting the growth of H. pylori bacteria, which attack the protective inner lining of the stomach and cause serious inflammation of the lining and ulceration. A recent study involving patients with this type of inflammatory stomach disorder showed that the participants who consumed cranberry had a 50% advantage over the participants who did not take cranberry. No wonder many doctors recommend regular intake of cranberry juice to suppress stomach inflammation and infections.
The next time you want a drink, turn to cranberries. They are ideal for making a delicious health drink as they contain fewer calories than most other fruits. Substituting other juices and sodas with cranberry juice is a great way to get rid of unwanted pounds. Here’s an easy recipe to make the juice at home.
1 lb cranberries
1 quart water
apple chunks (to taste, but no more than 1 lb)
cinnamon (optional, to taste)
Rinse the cranberries and apple chunks, add them to a quart of boiling water. Simmer until most of the cranberries pop. Turn off the heat, and let the mixture sit for another 10-20 minutes to steep the cranberries. If required, add some honey or an artificial sweetener. Blend the mixture until it becomes a thick, viscous liquid. Strain it through a cheesecloth. Chill and serve.
5. Digestive health
As you may already know, fiber is crucial for healthy digestion. The high fiber content in cranberries helps the digestive system function smoothly. But to get the full fiber content of cranberries, you must either eat them whole or make a smoothie. Just drinking cranberry juice will not be of much use, as most of the fiber is left out in the juice extraction process.
6. Anti-aging benefits
According to the scientists at the Human Research Center in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), cranberries can protect against age-related problems like memory loss and lack of coordination. The phytonutrients and antioxidants present in cranberries provide therapeutic properties by protecting the cells and tissues of the brain. They can also fight against free radical damage in the dermal cells, thus making the skin look younger.
7. Fights lung inflammation
Cranberries can prevent the influenza virus from causing inflammation in the lungs. Cranberries contain a substance called nondialyzable material (NDM) that prevents the influenza virus from sticking to the cells, and causing inflammation. Stocking up on this amazing berry during the flu season is highly recommended.
8. Bladder health
Cranberries’ role in urinary tract infections is legendary. The proanthocyanidins found in cranberry juice prevent the bacteria from binding to the cells of the bladder walls. These compounds prevent the bacteria from multiplying further and flush them out of the body through urine. Also, as cranberry juice makes the urine more acidic, the infection-causing bacteria find it difficult to thrive and get driven out. Drinking cranberry juice regularly is recommended for pregnant and middle-aged women to prevent frequent urinary tract infections.
9. Fights scurvy
In ancient times, sailors used to carry cranberries on their voyages to prevent against the dreaded scurvy. Cranberries have a high vitamin C content that is crucial for collagen production in the body. Collagen helps in the healthy functioning of tissues and organs and prevents scurvy and other related health conditions.
10. Yeast infection
Yeast infections commonly occur in men and children and are characterized by an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth, intestines, or urinary tract. Cranberries contain anti-yeast substances that prevent the bacteria from clinging to the walls of the cells in these areas. Fresh cranberry juice is very helpful in flushing out yeast bacteria and other irritant fungi from the body.
These are just a few of the top cranberry juice benefits. The simple rule of thumb as far as cranberry benefits go is this: wherever there is inflammation, cranberry can help. Even if there is silent inflammation, where there are no external signs and symptoms. So it’s a good idea to make these amazing berries a regular part of your meal plan. It does not matter whether you snack on them, make a juice, make a jam, or add them to a salad. And, yes, while you’re at it, ask your doctor or nutritionist about the cranberry juice detox.
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