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What are the Health-Promoting Properties of Cranberries?

Alcoholic drinks containing cranberry juice may be tempting, but contain few of the health benefits of the cranberry.
Cranberry juice.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 July 2014
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Cranberries are more than just bright red berries used to make cranberry sauce during the holidays. They are actually packed with an assortment of vitamins and compounds which can promote general health. As with many plants that have health-promoting benefits, cranberries need to be consumed regularly and in large volumes for these benefits to be observed. In addition, cranberries are best used as preventative medicine, rather than as a retroactive treatment for conditions which have already emerged.

One of the more abundant cranberries is Vaccinium macrocarpon, found in the Northeastern region of the United States. Other cranberries in the Vaccinium genus are found across the Northern Hemisphere from Europe to Asia, along with cranberries in the genus Oxycoccus. All cranberries are evergreen plants which may grow as trailing vines or low shrubs in the acidic conditions found in bogs. These plants produce distinctive red berries which are harvested in the fall and sold fresh, dried, frozen, and packaged into juice. Many people take advantage of the health benefits of cranberries by drinking plentiful amounts of cranberry juice.

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One of the most widely known health-promoting properties of cranberries is their ability to adhere to the bacteria which cause Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), thus preventing UTIs from setting in. When cranberry juice is consumed by someone with an active UTI, the berries may be able to prevent spread of the infection, and the juice will certainly help the patient flush harmful bacteria and toxins. This bacteria fighting property can also promote health in the intestines and in the mouth; trials with regular cranberry juice drinkers suggest that cranberries can fight plaque and tooth decay.

People who consume cranberries regularly can also fight stomach ulcers more easily, since cranberries appear to cut down on bacteria linked to such ulcers. Cranberries also have lots of antioxidants, which have been shown to be useful in fighting cancer and heart disease. Some people also enjoy consuming cranberries because of their distinctly tart flavor, which pairs well with a wide range of foods.

The health benefits of cranberries will be offset by large amounts of sugar consumption, so artificially sweetened cranberry products may not be a healthy choice. To get the most out of cranberries, drink cranberry juices blended with naturally sweet fruits, and go easy on the sugars in cranberry sauce. You should also consume at least a serving a day of these fruits for them to be effective.

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Discuss this Article

plod
Post 2

I have just been told that cranberries are bad for your kidneys. Can anyone shed any light on this?

overreactor
Post 1

Some of the known and tested qualities of cranberries are that they reduce inflammation in arteries and help eliminate free radicals. Another suspected but not proven benefit is that it might reduce bad LDL cholesterol.

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