Everything You Need to Know About Cranberry
What is Cranberry?
ou've likely used juicy, tart cranberries to make cranberry sauce for your Thanksgiving meal or eaten dried cranberries as a flavorful snack. But did you know these red berries are packed with active, health-boosting compounds?
In this article, we explore how to harness the health benefits of cranberries by taking a convenient supplement.
Cranberry extract is a popular supplement derived from dried cranberries. These nutrient-rich berries are packed with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, and flavonols. They have long been used in traditional medicine, and now science confirms cranberry extract may support the health of the urinary, immune, and cardiovascular systems.
Taking a cranberry supplement allows you to get potent health benefits without having to eat mountains of cranberries each day!
How Cranberry Works
Cranberry extract has become famous for naturally cleansing the body and treating urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Proanthocyanidins provide cranberries with their vibrant red color and improve the balance of "healthy" and "unhealthy" bacteria in the body by inhibiting the growth and proliferation of pathogenic bacteria. Proanthocyanidins prevent the bacteria that cause UTIs, Escherichia coli, from binding to the hair-like proteins that line the urinary tract (1). These bacteria are then easily washed out of the body via urine.
Cranberries also contain D-mannose, a simple sugar that's poorly absorbed by the body. Much like proanthocyanidins, when D-mannose is excreted via urine, it blocks E.coli bacteria from colonizing the wall of the urinary tract (2).
Additionally, the antioxidants in cranberry extract defend your cells from damage caused by unstable free radicals. An interesting study found that, compared to blueberry juice, consuming 500 ml of cranberry juice once per week increases antioxidant capacity in the body and boosts vitamin C levels by up to 30% (3). This is significant for your well-being and longevity because oxidative cell damage leads to chronic inflammation and signs of premature aging.
Health Benefits of Cranberry
Here are 4 note-worthy health benefits of taking cranberry extract.
Treats Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs affect millions of women and men annually, causing symptoms of urgent urination, burning and pain when urinating, fever, and confusion. Most commonly caused by E.coli bacteria, UTIs often recur in sufferers and result in frequent antibiotic prescriptions. Luckily, cranberry extract is a popular natural UTI treatment that banishes bacteria from the urinary tract and supports your immune system.
A 2017 study looked at the impact of 120 mg of standardized cranberry extract (containing 36 mg of proanthocyanidins) on young women with a history of recurrent UTIs (4). Promisingly, it was found supplementing with cranberry extract for 2 months resulted in 63% of subjects being symptom-free. It also significantly lowered the incidence of recurring UTIs among participants.
Promotes Digestive Wellness
Cranberry’s anti-adhesion properties could support digestive health by preventing pathogenic bacteria like E.coli and ulcer-causing H.pylori from proliferating in the digestive system and causing infections (5).
Emerging research suggests that cranberries are rich in a prebiotic carbohydrate called xyloglucans that feeds beneficial probiotic bacteria (6). This promotes overall wellness by promoting the growth and proliferation of "healthy" microorganisms in your gut and reducing the growth of pathogenic bacteria (7).
Cranberry extract's source of vitamin C, polyphenols, and flavonoids help to support a strong immune system. Laboratory studies have found that cranberry extract may even prevent the flu virus from adhering to healthy cells (8).
In a 2013 study, a beverage made from powdered cranberries was found to improve levels of certain infection-fighting immune cells and reduce the severity of colds and flu (9).
May Support Heart Health Cranberry extract is packed with heart-healthy antioxidants that work to reduce inflammation, cholesterol oxidation, and damage to the cardiovascular system. Several studies have shown this supplement may improve markers of cardiovascular disease, including lowering levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and boosting "healthy" HDL cholesterol levels (10).
In a 2015 study, adults consumed cranberry juice rich in polyphenol compounds daily for 2 months. The results found cranberry juice exhibited cardioprotective effects by improving blood pressure, blood triglyceride levels, blood sugar levels, and markers of inflammation (11).
Make Cranberry Part of Your Daily Diet
Okay you knew it was coming... time for a shameless plug. Do you think the benefits of adding cranberry to your daily diet could help? Create a personalized daily vitamin pack that includes cranberry and any other vitamins, minerals or supplements you think could help. Start by adding cranberry to your Kit here!