Know 5 Health Benefits of cranberries

Credit-Florida Institute for Health Innovation

1. Maintains Urinary Tract Health 

Cranberries are widely known to help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and have been used by women for many years. Clinical trials have shown positive benefits for daily single servings of cranberry juice or dried encapsulated powder in preventing overall incidence of UTI and significantly reducing recurrent infections. The proanthocyanidins (PACs) in cranberries help prevent bacteria from sticking in the urinary tract and causing infection. 

2. Decreases Inflammation 

Inflammation is at the root of many common diseases in developed nations, including heart disease, cancer, arthritis and diabetes. Consuming anti-inflammatory foods, such as cranberry which contains potent polyphenolic compounds, has been shown to reduce certain key risk factors for cardiovascular disease, cancer and cognitive decline. 

3. May Help Reduce Cancer Cell Growth
Research has shown that the phytochemicals in cranberries can
prevent rapid tumor growth and induce programmed cancer cell death
in lab studies utilizing cultures of breast, colon, lung and esophageal cancer cells. More studies are needed in humans to prove a benefit against existing cancers. 

4. Enhances Immune Function 

Consuming cranberry products may help to give the immune system a boost. One study suggests that PAC compounds in cranberry can combine with proteins and modulate aspects of innate and acquired immune responses in macrophages, which are large white blood cells 

that aid in overcoming infection by secreting signals that help activate other cell types to fight against infections. 

5. Benefits Stomach Health 

Cranberries can help keep the gut bacterial microbiome balanced by promoting beneficial bacteria and decreasing the harmful ones. This balance is important to help the body extract beneficial compounds from foods as well as prevent stomach upset. The PACs in cranberry have also been shown to suppress Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers. 

About Author

Dr. Amy B. Howell is an associate research scientist at the MarucciCenter for Blueberry and Cranberry Research at Rutgers University, where she works on isolating natural products from cranberries that benefit health.

Since 1993, Dr. Howell has been engaged in research aimed at identifying the active compounds in cranberries that prevent urinary tract infections and determining their role in maintenance of urinary tract health. Dr. Howell and her team isolated specific compounds from cranberry fruit, called proanthocyanidins (PACs), which they found to be capable of preventing E. coli bacteria from attaching to cells from the urinary tract. This work was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1998. 

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