• En

Cranberry is a type of berry which is sour and tart in taste and belongs to the same family as blueberries. Cranberries are usually sold raw in North America and Europe, but not always consumed in this raw form because of their sharp taste. Instead, dried cranberries, cranberry sauce and cranberry juice are consumed more often in countries that produce these berries as well as the ones where it is imported, like India.

Like most fruits, cranberries are packed with carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This is the reason why consuming cranberries is linked with many health benefits, so much so that the berry is even called a superfood. The most common association between cranberries and health benefits has to do with urinary tract infections (UTIs), which cranberries are touted to prevent. However, consumption of cranberries may also have some side effects in some cases. Read this article to find out about the nutrition provided by cranberries, benefits of cranberries and side effects of cranberries.

Did you know?

Cranberries are not grown in India but the rising popularity of this superfood has increased its demand in the country. The Indian wild berry karonda is often used as a substitute for cranberry because of its similar appearance and sour taste. However, karonda and cranberry are not the same.

Some basic facts about cranberries:

  • Botanical name: Vaccinium macrocarpon (American cranberry species), Vaccinium oxycoccos (European cranberry species)
  • Family: Ericaceae
  • Common name: Cranberry
  • Parts used: Ripe fruit, seed and other plant extracts
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Cranberries are native to North America and also grown in Europe. The United States of America is the largest cranberry producer in the world, followed by Canada and Chile. India does not produce any cranberries, but imports dried, tinned, frozen and juiced cranberries from the US and Europe.
  1. Cranberry nutrition facts
  2. Benefits of cranberry
  3. Side effects of cranberry
  4. Takeaways
Doctors for Cranberry: Nutrition facts, benefits and side effects

Apart from being packed with carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, cranberries also contain a huge amount of phytonutrients and bioactive compounds. Quercetin, myricetin, A-type proanthocyanidins and peonidin are just some of the antioxidants packed in cranberries. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the following are the nutritional facts for raw cranberries.

Nutrient Value per 100 g
Water 87.32 g
Energy 46 kcal
Protein 0.46 g
Carbohydrate, by difference 11.97 g
Fiber, total dietary 3.6 g
Sugars. Total including NLEA 4.27 g
Vitamins  
Vitamin A 3 µg
Vitamin C 14 mg
Vitamin K 5 µg
Minerals  
Calcium 8 mg
Magnesium 6 mg
Phosphorus 11 mg
Potassium 80 mg
Sodium 2 mg

Cranberry is called a superfood because it is packed with essential nutrients and has a high concentration of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These nutrients are believed to provide many health benefits, which is why including cranberries in your diet is believed to do you a world of good. To get these benefits while living in India, you may have to rely on dried or frozen cranberries, cranberry juice and dietary supplements with cranberry powder or extracts. The following are the benefits you may gain by including cranberries in your diet.

Cranberry may prevent UTI

UTI is a type of infection most often caused by bacteria like E.coli. Since they are predominantly a bacterial infection, UTIs are treated with antibiotics. Women are more prone to developing a UTI, which is why an antioxidant-rich diet is recommended to them to prevent the occurrence of this infection. Cranberry, which is packed with antioxidants, is believed to be especially effective in preventing UTIs. This is primarily because studies have found A-type proanthocyanidins to be exceptionally effective against bacterial infections and fresh as well as dried cranberries are packed with this active antioxidant.

(Read more: E.Coli infection)

Medications and dietary supplements with cranberry extracts may also provide the same benefits. However, cranberry juice does not contain too many active proanthocyanidins and may be less effective against UTIs. At the same time, it is important to remember that while cranberries may reduce your risk of getting a UTI, it is not recommended as a treatment for the same. If you have an active UTI then antibiotics are the best bet at a cure; consuming cranberry simultaneously may prevent your future risk of UTI.

(Read more: Precautions to take with antibiotics)

Cranberry may aid in weight loss

Fruits that are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are often included in large amounts in weight loss diets because they not only add bulk to your bowels and help clear out the toxins in the system but also help curb your appetite and keep you feeling full for longer. Cranberries are fruits that provide all of these benefits along with giving you enough energy and nutrients to keep your overall health intact. Including cranberries in your diet is therefore likely to help in healthy weight loss.

(Read more: How to lose weight fast and safely)

Cranberry may prevent digestive disorders

Your gut microbiome has a huge role to play in digestive health and certain foods promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Cranberry, which is packed with antioxidants and fiber, aids the digestive system by not only promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria but also preventing harmful bacteria and microbes from sticking to or damaging the lining of the stomach and intestines. Consuming cranberry may therefore prevent constipation, diarrhea, indigestion and stomach infections. By controlling the growth of bacteria in the digestive system, cranberries may also prevent digestive disorders and peptic ulcers.

Cranberry may improve heart health

Cranberry is a fruit packed with antioxidants which are believed to protect the heart from oxidative stress and damage. Studies show that consuming cranberry may help reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels while also increasing your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. By regulating this balance between bad cholesterol and good cholesterol, cranberries may help prevent high cholesterol and thereby prevent heart disease. At the same time, cranberry may help keep your blood pressure and blood sugar levels in control, thereby preventing high blood pressure and diabetes - the other risk factors for heart disease.

Cranberry is good for bones and teeth

A few vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus are essential for the health of your bones and teeth. Cranberries are loaded with these micronutrients and are therefore likely to prevent tooth decay, cavities, plaque accumulation, gum disease and gingivitis. Some studies also show that consuming cranberries may help prevent musculoskeletal problems and bone-related diseases like osteoporosis and arthritis.

Cranberry may improve lung health

Antioxidants play a vital role in reducing oxidative stress, inflammation and free radical damage, which is why some research suggests that consuming antioxidant-rich cranberries may help keep your lungs healthy and functioning properly. Not only can cranberries regulate the health of the lung microbiome but they also help clear out toxins and mucus from the same, which is a function sour and citrus fruits perform exceptionally well. Consuming cranberry can therefore help boost your immune system and lung function to prevent cough, common cold and lung infections.

Cranberry may help prevent cancer

A review study published in the journal Antioxidants in 2016 reveals that there is a huge corpus of evidence that supports the anti-cancer activities of cranberry. Cranberry consumption is believed to lower oxidative stress and free radical damage and regulate inflammation and cytokine pathways. What’s more, the antioxidants in cranberries are also linked with cancer inhibition through cell mechanisms like apoptosis (targeted cell death), necrosis and autophagy. To date, research supports promising anti-cancer activities of cranberry against 17 cancers including esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, glioblastoma and lymphoma.

While the positive health effects of consuming cranberry are very well known - which is why this superfood has a rising demand even in countries like India where the berry isn’t grown at all - many are not aware that there may be some side effects too. The following are some ways in which cranberry consumption may harm your health.

Cranberry may cause kidney stones

Kidney stones develop when certain minerals like calcium and oxalates accumulate in your urine and form stones that obstruct the urinary tract. Cranberry naturally contains these minerals and the risk of developing kidney stones is higher, especially where concentrated cranberry extract is concerned. However, susceptibility to the development of kidney stones differs from person to person, which is why you should consult your doctor about your cranberry consumption if you have a history of kidney stones.

(Read more: Kidney stones diet)

Cranberry may interact with medications

The antioxidants in cranberries are likely to react with certain medications, although there is currently limited research on this topic. Some studies show that if you increase your cranberry consumption while on blood thinners like warfarin, it can cause excess bleeding by enhancing the anti-clotting properties of the medication. If you are on blood thinners then it may be best to consult a doctor about your cranberry consumption so a safe limit can be set.

Cranberry is widely accepted as a superfood with many health benefits to impart. Apart from helping prevent UTIs, cranberry consumption is also linked to lower risks of heart disease, bone disease, lung disease and cancer. However, there can be some side effects to overconsuming cranberries or products made from cranberries. It is important to consult a doctor or nutritionist about your cranberry consumption whether it is dried cranberry, cranberry supplements or cranberry juice.

Dt. Akanksha Mishra

Dt. Akanksha Mishra

Nutritionist
8 Years of Experience

Surbhi Singh

Surbhi Singh

Nutritionist
22 Years of Experience

Dr. Avtar Singh Kochar

Dr. Avtar Singh Kochar

Nutritionist
20 Years of Experience

Dr. priyamwada

Dr. priyamwada

Nutritionist
7 Years of Experience

References

  1. FoodData Central. United States Department of Agriculture. Washington D.C. USA; Cranberries
  2. FoodData Central. United States Department of Agriculture. Washington D.C. USA; Cranberries, raw
  3. Hisano, Marcelo. et al. Cranberries and lower urinary tract infection prevention. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2012 Jun; 67(6): 661–667. PMID: 22760907
  4. Fu, Zhuxuan. et al. Cranberry Reduces the Risk of Urinary Tract Infection Recurrence in Otherwise Healthy Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis . The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 147, Issue 12, December 2017, Pages 2282–2288.
  5. Wan, Kong-Sang. et al. Cranberries for Preventing Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in Uncircumcised Boys. Altern Ther Health Med . 2016 Nov;22(6):20-23. PMID: 27866177
  6. Blumberg, Jeffrey B. et al. Cranberries and Their Bioactive Constituents in Human Health. Adv Nutr. 2013 Nov; 4(6): 618–632. PMID: 24228191
  7. Benzie IFF, et al. CRANBERRY: INTRODUCTION AND TRADITIONAL ORIGINS. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011.
  8. Zhao, Shaomin. et al. American cranberries and health benefits - an evolving story of 25 years. J Sci Food Agric . 2020 Nov;100(14):5111-5116. PMID: 29315597
  9. Terris, MK. et al. Dietary supplementation with cranberry concentrate tablets may increase the risk of nephrolithiasis. Urology . 2001 Jan;57(1):26-9. PMID: 11164137
  10. Weh, Katherine M. et al. Cranberries and Cancer: An Update of Preclinical Studies Evaluating the Cancer Inhibitory Potential of Cranberry and Cranberry Derived Constituents. Antioxidants (Basel). 2016 Sep; 5(3): 27. PMID: 27548236
  11. Jepson, RG. et al. Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev . 2004;(2):CD001321. PMID: 15106157
cross
Ask your health query now and get connected with a doctor within 10 minutes!