The Health Benefits of Cranberries

An article in the journal Advances in Nutrition that reviews information on the bioactive components in cranberries and the effect of cranberry consumption on human health.

While all berries have healthful properties, cranberries are distinct from other berry fruits because they have a different phytochemical profile. (Phytochemicals are compounds that occur naturally within plants, and are increasingly thought to be responsible for a given plant’s health benefits.) Therefore, it’s worth investigating whether cranberries impart any unique health benefits compared to other berries.

Most of the research on the effects of cranberry consumption has focused on urinary tract infections and cardiovascular health. “Evidence suggesting that cranberries may decrease the recurrence of urinary tract infections is important because a nutritional approach to this condition could lower the use of antibiotic treatment and the consequent development of resistance to these drugs,” the article’s authors write.

As for heart-health benefits, the review authors say there is “encouraging but limited” evidence that cranberries can protect against cardiovascular disease, most likely because of the berries’ antioxidants and their favourable effect on lipoprotein profiles.

Cranberries are also hypothesised to help with oral health (by fighting harmful bacteria that collects in the mouth) and gastrointestinal health (by aiding in digestion and promoting a healthy gut).

If you have any control over the cranberries you eat during the Thanksgiving holiday, try to enjoy them as close as possible to their natural state to increase the phytochemical content.

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