Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, a compound commonly found in plants. It’s believed that this compound can help prevent UTIs by stopping bacteria from attaching itself to the lining of the urinary tract. If the bacteria can’t grow and spread, it can’t cause an infection.
Unfortunately, research about cranberry juice has been mixed. Some studies show cranberry juice to be effective in reducing the risk for UTIs, while others have found that it isn’t an effective treatment.
More research is still needed to determine the exact benefits.
Cranberries also contain phytonutrients. This gives them an anti-inflammatory property. Inflammation plays a role in damaging blood vessels over time. The damaged vessels then attract plaque, causing atherosclerosis.
Phytonutrients in cranberries could help guard against inflammation, delaying the process and offering protection against heart disease.
There is also some evidence that cranberry juice can help to prevent dental plaque that builds up on teeth and causes gum disease.
Protect Against Cancer
Cranberries also contain powerful phytochemicals that act as antioxidants. Antioxidants help to protect your body from cell damage due to free radicals. Free radicals contribute to the aging process and may also be risk factors for developing chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Research published in the Journal of Nutrition found that cranberries might have a role in preventing cancer through dietary changes.
Improve Digestive Health
The same compounds that help protect the heart also improve your digestive system function.
They can prevent the bacteria, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), from growing and multiplying in the stomach lining. This is important because when H. pylori are allowed to grow out of control, stomach ulcers may form.
The antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory substances in cranberries may provide protection against colon cancer, too.
Choice Your Juice Wisely
When you’re looking for healthy cranberry juice, it’s important not to fall for labeling traps. There’s a big difference between cranberry juice cocktail (or cranberry drink) and real cranberry juice.
Juice cocktails contain added sugars like high fructose corn syrup. This isn’t good for you. These cocktails are often made with only a small amount of actual cranberry juice.
Look for labels that say “made with 100 percent real juice” or that list other natural sweeteners like apple or grape juice.