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While they are not grown or that easily available in India in their fresh and ripe form, cranberries are rising in popularity in the country as more and more people are discovering the benefits of consuming them. In fact, cranberries are now hailed as a superfood across the globe, so it makes sense that you would want to include them in your balanced diet if you are health-conscious.

Cranberries are a type of berry produced in Europe and North America, with the United States of America being the leading producer. In India, dried or dehydrated cranberries and cranberry juice are now easily available. Since cranberries are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, their consumption is considered to be highly beneficial for both the prevention of diseases and the maintenance of good health. Dietary supplements with cranberry extracts are also recommended by doctors, especially to people prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs).

This is primarily the reason why people are turning to cranberry juice in India. But is making cranberry juice a part of your diet a healthy choice? Research indicates that while consuming unsweetened cranberry juice has many benefits to provide, if the juice has added sugars or artificial sweeteners or flavours, it may do more harm than good. So, selecting the right cranberry juice is important for your health. Read this article to find out everything you need to know about cranberry juice.

(Read more: Healthy foods)

  1. Cranberry juice nutrition facts
  2. Benefits of cranberry juice
  3. Side effects of cranberry juice
  4. Takeaways
Doctors for Cranberry juice: Nutrition facts, benefits, side effects

Cranberries are considered to be a superfood because they are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Since cranberry juice is derived from cranberries, it is believed that the benefits of cranberries are also gained by consuming the juice. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the following are the nutritional facts for unsweetened cranberry juice. 

Nutrient Value per 100 g
Water 87.13 g
Energy 46 kcal
Protein 0.39 g
Carbohydrate, by difference 12.2 g
Sugars, total including NLEA 12.1 g
Vitamins  
Vitamin A 2 µg
Vitamin C 9.3 mg
Vitamin E 1.2 mg
Vitamin K 5.1 µg
Minerals  
Calcium 8 mg
Iron 0.25 mg
Magnesium 6 mg
Phosphorus 13 mg
Potassium 77 mg
Sodium 2 mg

Cranberry juice is considered to be a beneficial addition to the diet of most people. This is because apart from being packed with vitamins and minerals, cranberry juice also contains phytonutrients called anthocyanidins and polyphenols like quercetin. The presence of these nutrients ensures that cranberry juice can provide many benefits. The following are some such benefits you can gain by including cranberry juice in your diet.

Cranberry juice may prevent urinary tract infection

The most common association between cranberry juice consumption and your health is that cranberries may help prevent as well as treat urinary tract infections. This is because cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, a type of antioxidant that can prevent bacterial infections in the urinary tract by preventing the disease-causing microbes from sticking to the lining of the urinary tract. However, studies on the benefits of cranberry juice are indecisive about these benefits as some research suggests cranberry juice does not contain the same active proanthocyanidins that fresh cranberries do.

(Read more: Bladder infections)

Cranberry juice may improve heart health

The phytonutrients in cranberries have anti-inflammatory properties that can help control cholesterol levels, prevent the clogging of and damage to the arteries as well. Damaged arteries can cause atherosclerosis and heart disease, and in the long run they can even cause heart failure and stroke. Studies show that the consumption of high-polyphenol cranberry juice can prevent several risk factors for heart disease. Drinking cranberry juice can also prevent plaque from building up on the teeth and gums, thereby reducing the risk of gum disease.

Cranberry juice may improve skin health

Cranberries are packed with vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K and many antioxidants like polyphenols and anthocyanidins. All of these compounds are essential for proper skin health and can prevent wrinkles, dry skin and even skin infections. Some studies, though limited, show that cranberries have anti-aging properties and may even prevent the signs of aging and premature aging from appearing. Since cranberry juice is derived from cranberries, it is believed that the same benefits for the skin may be gained by consuming cranberry juice.

Cranberry juice may prevent infections

Apart from UTIs, cranberries are believed to be potent against other bacterial and viral infections too. This is because nutrient-dense cranberries work to boost the immune system and strengthen a weak immune system too. Studies have shown that the antioxidants in cranberries are particularly effective against bacterial infections and even the norovirus. While the effects of cranberries on other viral infections are not yet ascertained by studies, many believe that consuming cranberry juice may help prevent all sorts of infections.

Cranberry juice may improve digestion

The key to a healthy digestive system lies in maintaining the perfect balance of the gut microbiome, particularly the healthy bacteria making your stomach and intestines their home. These microbes help in the production of enzymes that aid digestion, so having the right amount of healthy microbes in your guts is very important. Studies show that cranberry juice may help the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut and thereby prevent stomach infections, diarrhea, indigestion and dysentery. What’s more, the antioxidants in cranberry juice may also prevent the growth of bacteria like Helicobacter pylori, which are known to cause stomach ulcers.

While cranberries are considered to be a superfood and highly beneficial for your health, there aren’t enough studies that prove the efficacy of cranberry juice in preventing diseases. This is why, even if you do choose to add cranberry juice in your diet for health benefits, it is important to know about the possible side effects of overconsuming cranberry juice or even of consuming the wrong kind. The following are some of the side effects of cranberry juice you should be aware of.

Cranberry juice may interact with medications

Some studies show that cranberry juice may interact with a number of medications like cyclosporine, ibuprofen and amoxicillin. Research also shows that cranberry juice may exacerbate the effects of a blood thinner called warfarin. People on any medication that could interact with cranberry juice must consult a doctor to find out how much cranberry juice, if at all, is safe for them. If you are on any of these medications and drink cranberry juice, then look out for signs of allergic reactions and contact your doctor if they do show up.

Cranberry juice may affect blood sugar

Whole or fresh cranberries are predominantly sour and have a hint of sweetness. Many manufacturers of cranberry juice tend to add sugar and artificial sweeteners to this beverage to make it more palatable for consumers. However, consuming cranberry juice with added sugars is likely to make your blood sugar levels rise. Moreover, nutritionists point out that creating a juice of any fruit or berry intensifies the concentration of the natural fructose sugars in the final product - which is why most experts recommend the consumption of fresh fruits over fruit juices. Blood sugar spikes due to cranberry juice consumption may cause prediabetes, diabetes, obesity and even digestive issues like bloating, stomach gas, indigestion and diarrhea. It is therefore very important to consume limited amounts of cranberry juice under the proper guidance of a nutritionist.

Cranberry juice is derived from cranberries, which are known to be nutrient-dense superfoods that provide many health benefits. While including cranberry juice in your diet may seem like a healthy choice to make, it is important to remember a few things before you drink liters of it, assuming it will benefit your health and not harm it at all:

  • All fruit juices have a high concentration of fructose. Additional sugars are included in the manufacture of many juices, especially ones like cranberry juice, which can be quite tart and tangy in their natural form. If you have prediabetes, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol and any other health conditions then you should consult a doctor before drinking cranberry juice.
  • If you are on medications for any health issue, consult your doctor about your cranberry juice consumption as it can interfere with how some medications work.
  • If you have a UTI or are at risk of developing one at any point in time, consult a doctor and take proper precautions as well as medications. Cranberries and cranberry juice are associated with UTI prevention, but they are not medications that can prevent or cure an active infection. You need antibiotics and urinary hygiene to treat a UTI, so don’t think of cranberry juice as a replacement for medications.
  • Excess of anything can upset your stomach and this applies to cranberry juice too. Limit your cranberry juice consumption and keep a lookout for an upset stomach if you do consume more than a glass of cranberry juice in a day.
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; Cranberry juice, unsweetened
  2. Agricultural Research Service. U.S. Department of Agriculture. [Internet]. USDA Center for Nutrition Policy & Promotion. Alexandria (VA), USA. Cranberry Juice Can Boost Heart Health
  3. Cleveland Clinic. [Internet]. Cleveland. Ohio; Can Cranberry Stop Your UTIs?
  4. Jensen, Heidi D. et al. Cranberry Juice and Combinations of Its Organic Acids Are Effective against Experimental Urinary Tract Infection. Front. Microbiol., 04 April 2017
  5. Griffiths, Peter. The role of cranberry juice in the treatment of urinary tract infections. Br J Community Nurs . 2003 Dec;8(12):557-61. PMID: 14688663
  6. Barbosa-Cesnik, Cibele. et al. Cranberry Juice Fails to Prevent Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection: Results From a Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Clin Infect Dis. 2011 Jan 1; 52(1): 23–30. PMID: 21148516
  7. Raz, R. et al. Cranberry juice and urinary tract infection. Clin Infect Dis . 2004 May 15;38(10):1413-9. PMID: 15156480
  8. Maki, Kevin C. et al. Consumption of a cranberry juice beverage lowered the number of clinical urinary tract infection episodes in women with a recent history of urinary tract infection. Am J Clin Nutr . 2016 Jun;103(6):1434-42. PMID: 27251185
  9. Liska, DeAnn J. et al. Cranberries and Urinary Tract Infections: How Can the Same Evidence Lead to Conflicting Advice?. Adv Nutr. 2016 May; 7(3): 498–506. PMID: 27184277
  10. Goldman, Ran D. Cranberry juice for urinary tract infection in children. Can Fam Physician. 2012 Apr; 58(4): 398–401. PMID: 22499815
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