Is Cranberry Juice Good for You?

Is Cranberry Juice good for you
Credit: Nutrition Data/Cranberry Juice

The benefits of cranberry juice for UTI are well-known, as cranberry juice has always been a popular natural remedy for treating urinary tract infections. But, is cranberry juice good for you? Is it more than just a touted natural remedy for UTI? Cranberry juice benefits go way beyond just treating UTI.

Most of the health benefits of cranberry juice can be attributed to the good amounts of vitamins A, C, E, and K, the presence of antioxidants, and low sodium content. So, cranberry juice is a healthy drink because of its impressive nutritional values. However, avoid the packaged cranberry juice available in stores as it is sweetened and loaded with sugars.

Cranberry juice is a superfood with low saturated fats, sodium, and cholesterol. Cranberry juice also contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and zinc. Rich in phytonutrients as well, cranberry berry juice has quite a few health benefits to offer.

Cranberry Juice Nutrition

Credit: Nutrition Data/Cranberry Juice

Is Cranberry Juice Good for You? The Health Benefits

Benefits of Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice contains proanthocyanidins, a chemical compound that prevents bacteria from clinging to cells. Packed with vitamins and minerals, cranberry juice has many health benefits to offer. Here are 11 ways that cranberry juice can benefit us. This will help answer the question, is cranberry juice good for you?

1. Helps with urinary tract infection

In the case of urinary tract infection (UTI), microorganisms cling to the bladder wall and cause cystitis and other renal problems. Cranberry juice contains proanthocyanidins which have anti-clinging properties that prevent bacteria from clinging onto the walls of the bladder. That makes cranberry juice an effective remedy for UTI. However, cranberry juice may help cure UTI when taken along with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.

2. Improves cardiovascular health

Due to the presence of antioxidants such as quercetin and anthocyanin, cranberry juice may help in overall heart health. It may also prevent the clogging of arteries. Atherosclerosis is a condition where the arteries get narrow because of the deposition of fat, calcium, and cholesterol in the body. The antioxidant compounds present in cranberry juice reduce the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and may help in normalizing blood pressure.

3. Prevents tooth decay

The antioxidant properties of proanthocyanidins in cranberry juice play a role in preventing tooth decay. The anti-clinging properties of the proanthocyanidins compounds prevent the harmful effects of bacteria on teeth. Research conducted at the University of Rochester Medical Center showed that unsweetened cranberry juice prevents the formation of plaque and cavities. It hinders the bacteria from attaching to a tooth surface.

4. Prevents scurvy

Vitamin C deficiency results in scurvy, which causes gum bleeding, skin soreness, bruises, bleeding through the skin, and fatigue, among other symptoms. Cranberry juice is a good source of vitamin C and can be taken daily to treat scurvy.

5. Inhibits cancer growth

Cranberry juice contains flavonoids that have anti-carcinogenic properties. Laboratory-level research states that the vitamin C and flavonoids in cranberry juice helps to reduce cell damage caused by free radicals. These compounds inhibit the growth of tumors, thereby preventing cancer—especially colon and prostate cancers.

6. Strengthens bone health

Cranberry juice has a fairly good amount of calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. These are all essential for good bone mineral density. Thus, daily intake of cranberry juice can strengthen bones and tooth enamel.

7. Acts as an inflammatory agent

The health benefits of cranberry juice include anti-inflammatory effects, too. Cranberry juice contains cytokines that work actively to suppress inflammatory enzymes and their activity. Regular cranberry juice consumption can reduce inflammation in the stomach, intestines, and cardiovascular system.

8. Boosts immunity

Cranberry juice contains polyphenols, strong antioxidants, and a considerable amount of essential nutrients that protect the body from free radical oxidation. Thus, cranberry juice effectively fights against infections and potential diseases like peptic ulcers.

9. Helps in digestion

Cranberry juice has some amount of dietary fiber, which supports the digestion process. Thus, drinking cranberry juice regularly may aid in digestion. Additionally, cranberry juice increases the number of bifidobacteria in the intestines.

10. Improves skin health

Full of antioxidants and phytonutrients, cranberry juice has anti-aging properties that benefit skin health greatly. The abundance of vitamin C present in cranberry juice helps improve collagen synthesis. Vitamins A and E also help in improving skin texture, as well as prevent dryness and infections.

11. Reduces respiratory infections

Haemophilus influenza is responsible for ear and respiratory infections in young children. Cranberry juice is said to inhibit the bacteria’s hair-like structures from sticking to the skin.

The Side Effects of Cranberry Juice

We now must look at the the side effects to answer the question, is cranberry juice good for you? Cranberry juice is a healthy drink with numerous health benefits. However, cranberry juice has some side effects, too.

Excessive cranberry juice consumption has some health hazards like allergies, gastrointestinal problems, and many others. Drinking cranberry juice for kidney stones is not a good idea. The high calcium and oxalate content can cause further development of uric acid and calcium oxalate stones. Here are five side effects of drinking cranberry juice.

1. Diarrhea

With its dietary fiber content, cranberry juice promotes healthy bowel movements. But if drank in excess, it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and other stomach related problems.

2. Diabetes complications

A large amount of calories in cranberry juice comes from its sugars. Additionally, manufacturers add more sugar in the packaged juices. The complex sugar molecules will cause the insulin level in the bloodstream to increase. Thus, drinking too much cranberry juice isn’t healthy for diabetic patients.

3. Drug interaction

Cranberry juice doesn’t go well with some medications. Drugs like warfarin, a blood thinner, might cause excessive bleeding when it comes into contact with cranberry juice. Other drugs that should be avoided with cranberry juice include liver medications and aspirin.

4. Allergies

Individuals with an allergy or hypersensitivity to the Vaccinium species of berries, which includes cranberries, should avoid consuming cranberry juice.

5. Hair loss

Since cranberry juice is a rich source of vitamin A, drinking too much cranberry juice can actually cause hair loss.

How Much Cranberry Juice Should You Drink a Day?

We have already established that cranberry juice is healthy, but should be consumed in limited quantities nonetheless. According to Medline Plus, you should limit your daily cranberry juice to less than one liter per day. Drinking eight to 10 ounces of cranberry juice can reduce the risk of recurring urinary tract infections.

It is found that one liter of cranberry juice is equivalent to 34 ounces—about four cups, which is double the daily serving of the fruit for the day. So, restrict it to one cup a day. Exceeding the recommended dosage can lead to weight gain as well.

Although cranberry juice has a sour taste, it is actually high in calorie content and sugars. An eight-ounce glass of cranberry juice will give you about 115 calories. Therefore, one liter of cranberry juice will give you more than 460 calories!

Finally, we will give the final answer to the question, is cranberry juice good for you? We can safely say that cranberry juice is good for overall health and especially for treating UTI. It contains a good amount of flavonoids, vitamin A, and vitamin C that also help keep our bones and skin healthy.


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Sources:

“Give Thanks for the Cranberry, Say Dental Researchers,” University of Rochester Medical Center; https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/947/give-thanks-for-the-cranberry-say-dental-researchers.aspx, last accessed March 14, 2017

Whiting, S. J., et al., “Dietary protein, phosphorus, and potassium are beneficial to bone mineral density in adult men consuming adequate dietary calcium,” National Center for Biotechnology Information; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12356781, last accessed March 14, 2017