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4 Health Benefits of Cranberries
Cranberries are a popular fruit, with America consuming 400 million pounds each year. 20% of cranberries are eaten during the week of Thanksgiving, with many Americans enjoying cranberry sauces and desserts with their families during their holiday dinners.1
Cranberries originated in North America, with Native Americans utilizing them to mix with deer meat to make pemmican. Pemmican can be stored for long periods of time, which helped them through the winters.2
Today, cranberries are an ingredient used in many dishes, including sauces, desserts, and salads. With holiday dinners coming around the corner, here are 4 health benefits you can get from eating cranberries!
Cranberries Can Keep Your Heart Healthy
One health benefit of cranberries is that they can aid in heart health. 18.2 million adults over 20 years old have cardiovascular disease, with 8 out of every 10 of fatal cases being those who are over 65.3 Keeping a healthy heart can help protect your body from heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.
Studies show the polyphenols in cranberries can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease because they can reduce blood pressure.4 According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is known to increase your risk of cardiovascular events because it causes damage that makes it more likely for your arteries to narrow as fat, cholesterol, and plaque builds up on the walls.5
Another study by Janet Novotny tested 56 people for the effects that cranberry juice had on their blood. Her team identified 22 risk factors that were associated with cardiovascular diseases, and the research showed that 5 of the 22 risk factors for cardiovascular diseases had favorable results that improved heart health. One of the findings was cranberry juice lowered the body’s levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood known for causing heart disease, by 8%.6
Cranberries can be a heart-healthy food that you incorporate into your diet to help prevent cardiovascular problems.
Cranberries Can Improve Your Oral Hygiene
Keeping your teeth clean is important to prevent cavities, gum disease, and other diseases that can affect oral health.
There is a nutrient found in cranberries called proanthocyanidins that prevents bacteria from sticking together. Studies have found that this makes it difficult for acids and sugars to be produced, which can help protect your teeth from cavities and build-up. Cranberry juice has been proven to reduce plaque by up to 95%.7
Cranberries have also been proven to help fight gum disease. Gum disease is a condition where bacteria grows in your mouth, resulting in tooth decay and the destruction of tissues. Cranberries can limit gum disease because they help cut down the amino acids that bacteria thrives on.8
Enjoying some cranberries with your meal can be a natural way to protect your teeth and improve your oral hygiene.
Cranberries Can Improve Cholesterol
Another benefit of cranberries is that they can help reduce your body’s LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and improve levels of HDL (good) cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol helps your body get rid of the bad cholesterol inside of your arteries, while LDL cholesterol transports it to your arteries.9
In one study, the participants drank cranberry juice twice a day for 8 weeks. It was found that HDL cholesterol levels were improved.10
Another study found that people with type 2 diabetes discovered that those who ate cranberries and blueberries had improved glucose levels.11 High glucose levels are a risk factor for high cholesterol, which can put you at risk for heart disease.12
Eating cranberries can be a natural way to help improve your body’s cholesterol levels. Be mindful of staying away from overly sugared cranberry juice, as that might negate some of the health benefits.
Cranberries Can Protect You from Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common types of infections in the urinary system that often cause pain when urinating or in the side or lower back.13 A few studies have found that cranberries might be a natural way to prevent UTIs.
A 2016 study on women found that cranberries can be a way to prevent recurring UTIs.14 One reason why cranberries might be a way to stop UTIs is because they prevent the adhesion of bacteria to the epithelial cells found in the urinary tract.
Cranberries can also make urine more acidic, which can help keep bacteria such as E. Coli from causing an infection. Cranberries make it harder for the bacteria to stick to the urinary walls because they add a slippery coating that can stop bacteria from latching onto it them.15
If you are at risk for or have recurring UTIs, cranberries can be a way to help keep bacteria from building up in your urinary tract system.
Vitamins & Minerals Found in Cranberries
Cranberries can make an excellent addition to any diet because they contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
Here are some of the vitamins and minerals found inside cranberries:16
- Vitamin C. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, can help boost your body’s collagen production. Collagen is responsible for keeping your skin healthy and youthful. Vitamin C has also been linked to preventing iron deficiency and lowering blood pressure.17
- Vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps your body dissolve fat and assists many organs that help your body function properly.18
- Manganese is a trace mineral that can help protect your body from blood clots and aids in forming connective tissues. It also plays a role in your body’s brain and nerve functioning.19
- Vitamin K1. Vitamin K1 prevents blood clots and bone fractures.20
How to Eat More Cranberries
Here are a few ways that you can incorporate more cranberries into your everyday diet:
- Add cranberries into your homemade trail mix
- Add cranberries with your salad
- Eat dried cranberries
- Make a fruit smoothie and add cranberries as one of the ingredients
- Add cranberries to your dinner recipes
- Top foods with cranberry sauce
- Eat cranberries with your cereal
- Bake cranberry muffins, cookies, or bread
- Make homemade cranberry pancakes
- Drink more cranberry juice
- Make ice cubes and freeze cranberries inside them to make cranberry flavored water
- Use cranberries in your relish recipe
- Make cranberry jelly for your toast and bagels
Add More Cranberries Into Your Diet
With all these great health benefits, adding cranberries into a diet combined with other healthy foods can be one way that you can start eating a better diet.
Here at Saber Healthcare, our dietary staff works to provide meal plans for the residents that are not only filled with vitamins and nutrients, but also taste delicious. To learn more about our company, click here.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Cranberry Sauce Stats.” OceanSpray. 18 November 2021. Link: https://news.oceanspray.com/2017-09-30-cranberry-sauce-stats
- “Cranberry Facts.” TeacherVision. 18 November 2021. Link: https://www.teachervision.com/food/cranberry-facts
- “Heart Disease Facts.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 27 September 2021. 18 November 2021. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
- McKay, Diane L, and Jeffrey B Blumberg. “Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) and cardiovascular disease risk factors.” Nutrition reviews vol. 65,11 (2007): 490-502. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2007.tb00273.x Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18038941/
- “How High Blood Pressure Can Lead to a Heart Attack.” American Heart Association. 31 October 2016. Accessed 18 November 2021. Link: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/health-threats-from-high-blood-pressure/how-high-blood-pressure-can-lead-to-a-heart-attack
- “Can Cranberry Juice Boost Heart Health?” United States Department of Agriculture. May 2016. Accessed 18 November 2021. Link: https://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2016/may/cranberry/
- “Cranberries Are Good for Your Oral Health.” Bruce Silva. 15 November 2017. Accessed 18 November 2021. Link: https://drbrucesilva.com/cranberries-good-oral-health/
- “How do cranberries affect your oral health?” La Plata Dental. 26 November 2020. Accessed 18 November 2021. Link: https://www.laplatadental.com/blog/2020/11/26/cranberries-oral-health/
- “Cholesterol Education Month: Learn About Cholesterol.” Saber Healthcare Group. 1 September 2021. Accessed 18 November 2021. Link: https://www.saberhealth.com/news/blog/maintain-healthy-cholesterol-levels
- Ahmad Zare Javid, Leila Maghsoumi-Norouzabad, Elnaz Ashrafzadeh, Hojat Allah Yousefimanesh, Mehrnoosh Zakerkish, Kambiz Ahmadi Angali, Maryam Ravanbakhsh & Hosein Babaei(2018) Impact of Cranberry Juice Enriched with Omega-3 Fatty Acids Adjunct with Nonsurgical Periodontal Treatment on Metabolic Control and Periodontal Status in Type 2 Patients with Diabetes with Periodontal Disease, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 37:1, 71-79, DOI: 1080/07315724.2017.1357509 Link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2017.1357509?journalCode=uacn20
- Daniela Mayumi Usuda Prado Rocha, Ana Paula Silva Caldas, Bárbara Pereira da Silva, Helen Hermana Miranda Hermsdorff & Rita de Cássia Gonçalves Alfenas (2019) Effects of blueberry and cranberry consumption on type 2 diabetes glycemic control: A systematic review, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 59:11, 1816-1828, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1430019. Link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408398.2018.1430019?journalCode=bfsn20
- Pagan, Camille Noe. Nazario, Brunilda. “High Cholesterol and Diabetes.” WebMD. 8 June 2021. 18 November 2021. Link: https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/high-cholesterol-diabetes
- “Urinary Tract Infections.” Cleveland Clinic. 7 March 2020. Accessed 18 November 2021. Link: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9135-urinary-tract-infections
- Liska, DeAnn J et al. “Cranberries and Urinary Tract Infections: How Can the Same Evidence Lead to Conflicting Advice?.” Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.) 7,3 498-506. 16 May. 2016, doi:10.3945/an.115.011197. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4863270/#b27\
- Watson, Stepahnie. Khatri, Minesh. “Are Cranberries Good for UTI Prevention?” WebMD. 18 March 2021. 18 November 2021. Link: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/cranberries-for-uti-protection
- “Cranberries 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits.” Healthline Media. 15 February 2021. 18 November 2021. Link: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/cranberries
- “5 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Vitamin C.” Saber Healthcare Group. 4 September 2020. Accessed 18 November 2021. Link: https://www.saberhealth.com/news/blog/5-vitamin-c-benefits
- “Vitamin E.” WebMD. 18 November 2021. Link: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-954/vitamin-e
- “Manganese.” Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. 18 November 2021. Link: https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/manganese
- Pearson, Keith. “Vitamin K1 vs K2: What’s the Difference?” Healthline Media. 15 September 2017. Accessed 18 November 2021. Link: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-k1-vs-k2