The Amazing Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Cranberry juice has many amazing health benefits including the prevention of age-related oxidative damage, reduction in heart and other chronic diseases, and prevention of urinary tract (UTI) and other infections. It also helps improve digestion and supports post-menopausal health.

This fruit juice is also beneficial in preventing stomach disorders and diabetes, as well as gum diseases caused by dental plaque. Phytonutrients, which are naturally derived plant compounds, are present in this fruit and have been found to prevent a wide range of health problems.

What is Cranberry Juice?

Cranberry juice is made from cranberries, members of the Ericaceae family, one of the native fruits of North America. The Latin name for the cranberry plant is Vaccinium macrocarpon.

The Latin name for the cranberry plant is Vaccinium macrocarpon. Cranberries have a tremendous amount of antioxidant capacity as compared with other vegetables and fruits, such as broccoli, spinach, or apples. One cup of cranberries measures a total of 8983 antioxidant capacity. For comparison, apples have just 1500mg of antioxidant vitamin C.

Watch Video: 6 Surprising Benefits Of Cranberry Juice

What is Cranberry Juice Good for?

Cranberry juice, made from the fruit extract or cranberry concentrate, is used to make various sauces and cocktails. These cocktails are approximately 30 percent pure cranberry juice mixed with artificial sweetener or fructose. About one liter of juice can be extracted from 1500 grams of fresh cranberries.

The fruit extract is also used to make medicines, gels, and tonics. Dried cranberries are also very healthy and can be enjoyed as a sweet addition to breakfast cerealsenergy bars, granola bars, trail mixes, or baked goods like muffins.

Nutrition Facts

Cranberry juice, unsweetened
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]87.13
Energy [kcal]46
Protein [g]0.39
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.13
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]12.2
Fiber, total dietary [g]0.1
Sugars, total [g]12.1
Calcium, Ca [mg]8
Iron, Fe [mg]0.25
Magnesium, Mg [mg]6
Phosphorus, P [mg]13
Potassium, K [mg]77
Sodium, Na [mg]2
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.1
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]9.3
Thiamin [mg]0.01
Riboflavin [mg]0.02
Niacin [mg]0.09
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.05
Folate, DFE [µg]1
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]2
Vitamin A, IU [IU]45
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]1.2
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]5.1
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.07
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Cranberry Juice Nutrition

According to USDA Nutrition Data, cranberry juice has an abundant supply of antioxidants and vitamins. Cranberry juice is rich in vitamin C and salicylic acid and in terms of minerals, it contains calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium. It also contains B-vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, as well as vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol). Other nutrients in cranberry juice include sodium, zinc, vitamin A, folate, and vitamin K (phylloquinone).

By containing fewer calories per cup and high water content(87%), cranberry juice fits very well within the dietary guidelines.

Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice has long been used for curing various illnesses. The health benefits of cranberries include the following.

Cranberry Juice for UTI (Urinary Tract Infections)

Cranberry juice can be used to prevent UTI but the evidence that antioxidant-rich juice can help treat it is mixed, according to a report by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Let’s look at the most recent studies and their conclusions.

A 2016 study by Manisha Juthani-Mehta, MD, and Peter H. Van Ness, Ph.D., examined taking cranberry capsules and the effect on the levels of bacteria in urine. For the research, 147 women (65 years and above) living in nursing homes were given two cranberry capsules daily. The two cranberry capsules contained an organic compound called proanthocyanidin, in amounts as much as available in 20 ounces of cranberry juice. Urinary tract infection is the most commonly diagnosed infection among nursing home residents. After six months, there was a marked decrease in bacteria levels in the urine of the participants. However, there was no reduction in the frequency of UTIs over the year of the study.

Studies conducted done by AB Howell et al. from Rutgers University showed that these proanthocyanidins in cranberries possess anti-clinging properties, preventing the bacteria from binding itself to the cells on the walls of the bladder. These compounds prevent bacteria from multiplying further and flush them out of the body through urination.

Furthermore, a randomized controlled trial conducted by Afshar et al. in Canada looked at the effectiveness of cranberry juice for the prevention of UTIs in children showed that the variety of juice with a high concentration of proanthocyanidins was effective. Forty children aged 5 to 18 years old, who were given proanthocyanidin-rich cranberry juice, showed a 65 percent reduction in the risk of UTI according to this study.

However, Dr. Barbosa-Cesnik and her colleagues from the University of Michigan School of Public Health concluded through their six-month clinical trial on 319 college-going women, that cranberry juice did not help in decreasing the incidence of a recurrent UTI. The volunteers, who had a history of at least more than one UTI, were given 8 ounces of 27% cranberry juice. They showed no difference in urinary symptoms at 3 days, 1-2 weeks, and in a month, showing that cranberry juice did not have any beneficial effects on people with UTI. So, while cranberry juice hasn’t shown effectiveness in treating an existing UTI, it does have properties that can help maintain urinary tract health.

Cranberry juice with lime and fresh cranberries in a bowl on a wooden table

Fights Age-related Oxidative Damage

Cranberries are known for their anti-aging abilities. Research published in the peer-reviewed journal Age showed that when a cranberry extract was given to a laboratory worm, its healthspan and lifespan increased. Furthermore, the team of US researchers found that cranberries help fight oxidative damage as they are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals such as proanthocyanidins and vitamin C.

Improves Heart Health

Cranberry juice is rich in polyphenols, which may help improve heart health. The research published in the May 2016 issue of AgResearch Magazine, found that drinking two glasses of cranberry juice daily helps boost heart health. For the study, 56 volunteers were given 8 ounces of low-calorie cranberry juice or a similar tasting placebo during breakfast and dinner. Their meals were supervised too. After 8 weeks, people who had the cranberry juice had lower levels of triglycerides, diastolic blood pressure, glucose levels, and insulin resistance. They also had lower levels of C-reactive protein, which helped lower their risk for cardiovascular diseases. However, many have been skeptical of the study as it was funded by a well-known cranberry juice brand, and therefore the results may be skewed in favor of the juice.

A 2011 research led by Arpita Basu from the Oklahoma State University found that 2 cups of low-energy cranberry juice significantly reduces free radical scavenging activity. However, they did not find any changes in blood pressure, glucose, and C-reactive protein levels.

Improves Digestion

Cranberry juice is rich in phytochemicals and thereby known to help improve the digestion in your body. It also can help prevent the formation of peptic ulcers. Peptic ulcers are caused by a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori. A University of Florida research report suggests that cranberry juice or cranberries prevent the colonization of H. pylori in the stomach, thus helping protect against intestinal inflammation. This microorganism attacks the protective layer of the stomach and duodenum.

A report by Rummi Devi Saini published in the International Journal of Biotechnology and Biochemistry says that foods rich in flavonoids like cranberries, apples, and garlic help reduce the risk of stomach disorders, including stomach ulcers, by inhibiting the growth of H. pylori bacteria.

Helps Prevent Cancer

Cranberry contains proanthocyanidins, which have been found to inhibit the growth of various cancer cells. A study published in the Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry has suggested that diets rich in flavonoids play a fundamental role in reducing the risk of cancer as well as cancer mortality. Cranberry juice contains anti-carcinogenic components that interfere with the growth of cancer cells, particularly those associated with colon and prostate cancer. The study concluded that the beneficial effects of the preliminary results may lead to the invention of safer and effective anti-cancer therapeutic agents.

According to another study in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry proanthocyanidins can stop micro-tumors from developing in the blood vessels. Chemicals in organic cranberries also may prevent the multiplication of breast cancer cells.

Treats Infections

According to a 2010 study, cranberry juice may help inhibit certain strains of Haemophilus influenza, a common cause of ear and respiratory infections in children. The juice inhibits the bacteria’s hair-like structures, inhibiting them from adhering to the surface of the skin.

Cranberry juice’s antimicrobial effects on the body are what enables it to help fight against seven bacterial strains. It is also effective against norovirus, according to research.

Antitumor Effects

The anti-tumor efficacy offered by cranberry juice is attributed to the presence of polyphenolic compounds within the fruit. A 2004 study in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that regular consumption of cranberry juice inhibits the development and spread of lung, breast, colon, prostate, and other cancers. Cranberry juice contains a high amount of salicylic acid which can help reduce swelling, prevent blood clots, and eliminate tumors.

Improves Post-menopausal Health

Cranberry juice prevents the risk of heart diseases in postmenopausal women by helping to lower the cholesterol levels in the body. According to a research conducted through Harvard Medical School, “Our data demonstrate the novel cardiovascular benefits of cranberry juice consumption in improving both vascular functions and cholesterol profiles, providing insight into developing cranberry products into useful dietary supplements for postmenopausal women”.

Health benefits of cranberry juice - infographic

Prevents Tooth Decay

Research conducted in Canada suggested that cranberry juice can prevent and treat oral diseases like tooth cavities. Proanthocyanidins, a chemical compound present in cranberries, inhibits harmful bacteria from clinging to teeth. These components inhibit acid production and protect the teeth from periodontal diseases deterring preventing the growth of plaque, according to a report published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association.

Good oral hygiene, along with the consumption of organic premium dried cranberries, disrupts the pathogenic mechanism of dental caries and generally makes for good dental health. At the same time, one should watch out for the soaring sugar content and the acidity of some commercially available juices – natural cranberry juice is always best!

Other Benefits

There are many other benefits of cranberry juice, let’s look at them.

  • Strengthens Bones and Teeth: Although cranberry juice is a natural source of calcium, many juice companies add extra calcium. Natural or otherwise, calcium can help reduce the risk of getting osteoporosis.
  • Cures Cold: Fresh cranberry juice is effective in fighting infections. It cures sore throats and colds.
  • Weight Loss: Cranberry juice is rich in organic acids, (organic compounds with acidic properties) which have an emulsifying effect on the fat deposits in our body. So, it is good for people who want to shed those extra kilos.
  • Prevents Scurvy: Deficiency of vitamin C in an individual can result in scurvy. Sparkling cranberry juice provides high levels of vitamin C, which is also vital for the body to make collagen, the main component responsible for the healthy functioning of tissues.
  • Treats Lung Inflammation: The anti-inflammatory effects of this juice have been proven to be effective against the inflammation caused in the lungs by the influenza virus. A substance called nondialyzable material or NDM present in cranberries prevents the influenza virus from sticking to the cells, hence helping to prevent flu infection.

Side Effects of Cranberry Juice

Cranberries and cranberry juice offer a variety of health benefits, barring the few exceptions listed below:

  • Warfarin (Coumadin): Warfarin is an anticoagulant drug used as a blood thinner, and it lowers the chances of blood clots occurring in the body. These blood clots can further result in serious conditions like cardiovascular disorders or clots in the legs, lungs, and other parts of the body. Guidelines for warfarin clearly state that people who take the drug should be cautious regarding the intake of cranberry, as they are at high risk of bleeding. Excess consumption of cranberry juice is not recommended for these people as it may affect the efficacy and safety of warfarin in the body. In such cases, it is always advisable to regularly get your blood tested in order to consume the correct dose of the medication.
  • Aspirin allergy: Cranberries contain substantial quantities of salicylic acid, which is also present in aspirin. People who take blood thinners and are prescribed aspirin should avoid consuming too much cranberry juice. Intake of cranberries should also be restricted if you are allergic to aspirin (information per the Penn State Hershey report on cranberries).
  • Kidney stones: Cranberry extracts contain a significant concentration of oxalate and calcium. This amplifies the chances of developing calcium-oxalate stones and uric acid stones in certain people. People who have kidney stones or have a history of kidney stones should consult a medical professional before consuming cranberry supplements or a large amount of the juice. One study conducted by Martha Kennedy Terris and colleagues from Stanford University Medical Center has provided evidence that the juice can raise the level of oxalate in the urine by up to 43 percent.

Cranberry Juice Dosage: Unsweetened cranberry juice tastes slightly sour, but for medicinal purposes, 2 ounces of the juice diluted in 8 ounces of water is recommended.

Enjoy cranberries in any form you like, and also enjoy the wealth of health benefits you can get from this powerful little fruit!

References
About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve is a health and wellness enthusiast and started working on Organic Facts since 2012 and is currently responsible for managing it. She follows naturopathy and believes in healing with foods. She is currently pursuing Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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