Cranberries are perhaps best known for their effects on urinary tract health.
However, recent research indicates that these tiny berries are also great for your tummy, skin, gums and teeth because they are packed with powerful antioxidants and organic acids, including ellagic acid, citric acid, malic acid, quinic acid, flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, and vitamin C. Several studies have shown that cranberries may even play an important role in reducing cardiovascular risk and preventing cancer.
Cranberries for Preventing Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
UTIs are usually caused by E. coli, a type of bacteria that is normally found in the digestive tract. They can also be found on the skin around the rectum, and may even make their way up into the bladder. Although UTIs are often associated with women, men and children can suffer from UTIs too. Symptoms of UTIs include an urgent desire to empty the bladder, frequent urination, burning sensation during urination, the feeling of having to urinate(even though little or no urine actually comes out), lower abdominal pain, and cloudy or foul-smelling urine. If left untreated, bacteria can travel up to and infect the kidneys, causing serious complications.
Due to the fact that strong antibiotics can irritate the stomach and kill off the friendly bacteria in the gut (and that more E. coli strains are becoming resistant to them), antibiotics are no longer the best solution for UTIs. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), cranberries can offer great protection and relief from UTIs — including the ones that are resistant to antibiotic treatment.
Studies show that cranberries contain A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs) which are more effective in inhibiting the adhesion of E. coli to the urinary tract epithelium than the B-type proanthocyanidins found in other sources. When E. coli bacteria are unable to stick to the urinary tract walls, they are unable to cause any mischief. The beneficial effects start within two hours after intake and can last up to 10 hours in the urine.
Other Benefits of Cranberry
Improves gastric ulcers
Helicobacter pylori infects up to 60% of the world’s population, causing gastric and duodenal ulcers and increasing the risk of gastric cancer. Although there may not be any obvious symptoms until a gastric ulcer has reached an advanced stage, some of the earlier symptoms include bloating, frequent burping, nausea, change in appetite, or a burning pain in the stomach. Helicobacter pylori is transmitted through saliva, so sharing food or eating out may pose a risk if the food or eating utensils are contaminated. Fortunately, studies show that cranberries can effectively stop Helicobacter pylori bacteria from attaching to the stomach crevices that can protect them from stomach acids. When exposed to stomach acids, the bacteria are destroyed, flushed out and expelled from the gastrointestinal tract.
Encourages healthy gums & teeth, & keeps breath fresh
Cranberries prevent bacteria from sticking to the teeth, keeping teeth cleaner longer. This helps to prevent the formation of plaque, tooth decay and bleeding gums. Cranberries have the power to crush offensive-smelling bacteria that can build up in the mouth and lead to bad breath.
Encourages healthy heart & reduces stroke damage
Cranberries contain significantly high amounts of flavonoids and polyphenolic compounds that help prevent the oxidation of LDL (‘bad cholesterol’). This reduces the risk of plaque formation that would otherwise restrict blood flow. Studies, including one by the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, concluded that cranberries may reduce the brain cell damage associated with stroke. These findings suggest that cranberries can reduce the severity of stroke, and aid in recovery, particularly during the earliest stages, when the most severe damage occurs.
Reduces the risk of kidney stones
The quinic acid in cranberries reduces ionised calcium, thus, reducing the risk of kidney stone formation, even among those prone to recurring kidney stones.
Promotes a fairer & more youthful-looking complexion
Free radicals destroy collagen in the skin, causing wrinkles and sagging skin. They can also cause skin to appear dull, red or inflamed. Cranberries have a very high ORAC value (which means that they have potent antioxidant capabilities and can effectively quench free radicals for fairer, more youthful skin)
Cranberries help to eliminate uric acid that could otherwise crystallise around the joints and cause the painful symptoms of gout.
Improves anaemia & relieves tiredness
Cranberries are naturally rich in vitamin C and aid the absorption of iron, which is crucial for the red blood cells in the body. Without sufficient iron, one can feel persistently tired, due to a lack of oxygen caused by low haemoglobin levels.