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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Sheila

The antioxidants and phytonutrients in cranberries have many health benefits. Juice is the most common form in which cranberries are consumed; however, during juice processing through blanching, clarifying, and pasteurization, they lose more than half of their phytonutrients.  Therefore, blending them supplies maximum nutrition. Although different individual cranberry phytonutrients were tested, nothing compared to the whole berry in effectiveness for health benefits. Additionally, fresh or frozen raw cranberries don’t affect blood sugar, but sweetened dried cranberries do—even the low-sugar varieties.

Bacterial Anti-adhesion Properties

Cranberries are good at keeping bacteria from sticking to the wall of the bladder, suggesting that cranberries are effective for prevention of urinary tract infections. There is also in vitro evidence that cranberry phytonutrients may prevent H. pylori bacteria, an ulcer-causing bacterium, from adhering to stomach walls.

Cancer Growth Suppression

Cranberries are high in antioxidants. The ruby red phytonutrients in cranberries are powerful antioxidants, increasing the antioxidant capacity of our bloodstream within hours of consumption. In addition to suppressing liver cancer growth in vitro, cranberries have also been found to have similar effects against human breast, colon,  brain tumor,  oral, and  ovarian cancer cells. We only absorb a small fraction of the cranberry phytonutrients we eat into our bloodstream, but this may not matter since cranberries caused a dramatic drop in cancer proliferation at just tiny doses.

Possible Protection against Alzheimer’s

The phenolics in fruit juice may provide protection from Alzheimer’s disease. In a study analyzing the phenolic content of thirteen popular commercially available fruit juices and juice drinks in the UK, cranberry juice was among the highest. However, eating the whole fruit is best.

Image Credit: Pen Waggener / Flickr. This image has been modified.

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