What are its benefits?
Bright red tart cranberries are as healthful as they are pretty. Research indicates their health benefits are thought to be due to their flavonoid and phytonutrient content. These naturally occurring compounds have antioxidant and antimicrobial benefits that are seen in studies of the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, and urinary tract.
- A specific type of flavonoid in cranberries, called proanthocyanidins, supports urinary tract health by interfering with the ability of pathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli) to adhere to cell walls, thereby helping to prevent infections.
- Studies also show that proanthocyanidins have a similar effect on gut bacteria: they interfere with colonization by pathogenic E. coli and lessen gut barrier dysfunction caused by dietary “insult” (for example, antibiotics).
- Additional research points to beneficial interaction between cranberry components, the bioactive products of their catabolism, and gut microbiota. For example, mechanisms involving adhesion of bacteria and biofilm formation may contribute to clinical benefits on gastrointestinal tract infections and anti-inflammatory actions that are mediated by the gut microbiome.
- Growing evidence from other clinical trials indicates positive effects of cranberries on various heart and metabolism markers, such as serum lipid profiles, blood pressure, endothelial function, blood glucose regulation, and measures of inflammation and oxidative stress.
- Cranberries may provide numerous cardiovascular benefits. Research shows they can reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-oxidation, maintain or improve high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, reduce aggregation of platelets, and improve vascular function.
What is it?
Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is a low-growing woody perennial plant. It produces horizontal stems up to 6 feet long, with vertical branches, 2 to 8 inches high, some of which produce buds, flowers, and then berries. The plants are pollinated primarily via honey bees.
Along with flavonoids and phytonutrients, cranberries also provide fiber and vitamin C.