Fresh cranberries are great for you. Below, I will list out the reported benefits of eating fresh cranberries:
Urinary Tract Infections
At least 50% of women will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their life. Many believe that drinking cranberry juice (or taking cranberry supplements) can prevent and get rid of them.
The active ingredient in cranberries that is “A-type proanthocyanidins” has been studied and is said to prevent bacteria from causing problems with the urinary tract. The only problem is that cranberries don’t have it in large enough quantities to fully get rid of a UTI.
Studies do show that it may help though, so drink fresh, raw cranberry juice and follow your doctor’s advice on how to clear one if you are currently experiencing one.
Stomach ulcers result from either a bacterial infection or from taking anti-inflammatory medication for too long. There is little evidence to support the fact that foods or stress can cause stomach ulcers directly.
But can foods, like cranberries help? One study from 2008 concluded that drinking cranberry juice might have preventative benefits, and then went on to talk about some research that shows it helps eradicate Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium responsible for most ulcers.
But most scientists agree that it’s a ‘maybe’ and that it’s worth a shot seeing as there is some research that shows the juice does something positive, even if it’s a small effect.
The British Dental Health Foundation looked at a study that showed that cranberries could help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
” … cranberries could prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to the teeth, and so stop plaque from forming. Plaque is a major cause of tooth decay and periodontal disease.”
Again more research is needed to be definitive but perhaps it has to do with a connection to the Vitamin C content of the cranberries. Vitamin C is very active in connective tissue generation and regeneration, so it would makes sense that it would help ones gums.
Once again though, it’s still up for debate but scientists are talking about it.
My recommendation is to make sure you drink fresh cranberry juice without sugar, as sugar generally makes any ailment worse.
Growing research suggests that consuming cranberries as part of a healthy diet can help keep up a flourishing gut microbiota. Healthy gut microbiota is said to protect the body against germs, help with immunity and may decrease inflammation.
Once again it’s about those A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs), which help decrease bacterial stickiness against the gut wall to maintain a healthy environment. Cranberries simply seem to reduce the negative microbiome changes that are seen when we make big changes in our bodies, whether it’s from taking anti-biotics or from eating too much sugar for too long.
Cranberry products contain polyphenol antioxidants. Polyphenols are pretty much antioxidants which protect our tissues against damage from toxins.
To date there are tens of thousands of polyphenols identified.
Some studies suggest that polyphenols in cranberries may reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing platelet build-up and reducing blood pressure via anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
We’ve talked about these already. Proanthocyanidins are nutrients naturally found in high concentrations in cranberries that stop bacteria from sticking to parts of your body internally, including the urinary tract – hence why people say that cranberries prevent urinary tract infections (UTI’s). Those same compounds also prevent bacteria from adhering to teeth which results in good oral hygiene and may prevent cavities.
Cranberries contain the flavanol, proanthocyanidin (PAC). The unusual A-type structure of the cranberry PAC appears to be responsible for health promoting properties that are not found in other PAC-containing fruits and vegetables.
Fresh cranberries are excellent for weight loss for a whole bunch of reasons. The first is that they are a lower glycemic food which means that the sugar or carbohydrate contained in this berry doesn’t really do much to spike your insulin, which is key when trying to lose weight.
You want your insulin to be low as long as possible, as often as possible and cranberries won’t do much to move the needle when it comes to your insulin spiking – again as long as they are sugar free.
Cranberries may be helpful for a variety of different ailments and the research is ongoing still.
It’s my belief that no single food will do all that much on it’s own to help with an illness or to make you healthier in general without looking at your diet, exercise and lifestyle as a whole.
But cranberries definitely are good for you. Just make sure you eat them fresh or use sweetener and other foods to help make them more palatable.
Some good recipe ideas to enjoy the taste and nutritional benefits of cranberries can be found here.
Hope this helps.