9 Surprising Health Benefits Of Cranberries

By:    Published: July 19, 2012

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Cranberries are one of many healthy fruit options at your local grocery store or supermarket. And, as it turns out, they are also one of the best berries for your health. Check out these 10 amazing health benefits of cranberries.

Urinary Tract Health

One of the most well-know uses for cranberries is preventing urinary tract infections. Cranberries contain a substance that helps prevent bacteria from clinging to the cells along the walls of the urinary tract. In addition to eating cranberries for this purpose, you can also drink cranberry juice or take a cranberry supplement. Just keep in mind that there’s no evidence that cranberries can treat a urinary tract infection once it’s happened since they don’t seem to be able to release bacteria which has already stuck to the walls of the urinary tract. (For more information on urinary tract health, see Problems In The Urinary Tract.)

Oral Health

Cranberries are helpful in keeping your mouth and teeth healthy as well. There is a compound in cranberries called proanthocyanidine which prevents the formation of plaque on the teeth. In fact, researchers are trying to develop a mouthwash that contains this compound in order to help prevent periodontal disease. Cranberries also have anti-inflammatory properties which help reduce inflammation of the gums which can damage teeth-supporting tissues. You can drink cranberry juice to boost your oral health, but reach for a glass of unsweetened juice for the best results.

Peptic Ulcers

Some people have found success in prevent stomach ulcers by drinking cranberry juice. In fact, a 2005 study found that the juice helps prevent a H. pylori infection, which is a major cause of peptic ulcers.

Stomach Cancer

In addition to causing peptic ulcers, an H. pylori infection can also lead to gastric cancer. Therefore, drinking cranberry juice may also help prevent this type of cancer since it helps stop those infections from occurring.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants aren’t just a buzz word – they’re essential for combating free radicals in the body that can cause damage to cellular structures. Lucky for cranberry fans, this type of berry ranks among the fruits and vegetables that are highest in antioxidants.

Digestion

For people who don’t experience digestive difficulty, eating cranberries can help maintain regular digestive function. That’s because they contain enzymes that make it easier to digest food. You may even find that eating raw cranberries at the end of a meal helps you feel better afterward since your digestive system is getting a little help from those enzymes. Cranberries also have anti-inflammatory benefits which reduce the risk of chronic inflammation in the stomach and large intestine. Eat cranberries raw to get the best results for aiding in digestion.

Cardiovascular Benefits

The anti-inflammatory properties of cranberries are mostly responsible for this fruit’s cardiovascular benefits. The phytonutrients in cranberries help to prevent chronic inflammation which can lead to stress on the blood vessel walls. However, cranberries also contain antioxidants that decrease the risk of developing high blood pressure. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cranberries combined can also help lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels, which is vital for good cardiovascular health.

Cancer Prevention

Numerous studies have been performed in recent years to determine what anti-cancer properties cranberries contain. So far, researchers have reason to believe that cranberries may help prevent cancer by inhibiting certain harmful enzymes. In addition, some research suggests that cranberries may even help to destroy tumor cells in the body. When combined with their amazing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, cranberries are considered a great food for helping to lower the risk of cancer, specifically breast, lung, prostate and colon cancer. However, keep in mind that cranberries have not been approved as a treatment for cancer.

Immune System Support

New studies have suggested that cranberries may help to boost immune system function. Subjects in these studies consumed cranberry extracts which contained similar amounts of proanthocyanidins as whole, raw cranberries. These subjects were found to have a lower frequency of cold and flu symptoms. More research is needed to support this connection but findings up to this point have been promising. (To learn about other foods that help the immune system, see 10 Immune System Boosting Foods You’ll Love.)

Cranberries are great for your health in many ways, so it’s wise to incorporate them into your diet. Add cranberries to muffins, yogurt or salads or just eat them on your own. You can also take supplements or drink cranberry juice, but keep in mind that too much of the juice may cause upset stomach.

In addition, cranberries may increase the blood-thinning effects of warfarin, so ask your doctor before consuming any cranberry products if you’re on this drug. In addition, don’t consume a lot of cranberries or cranberry products if you have a history of kidney stones as there is some evidence that cranberries may increase the risk of this condition.

Finally, keep in mind that cranberries are not approved as a treatment for any type of health condition. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about adding cranberries to your diet.

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