Cranberries, also known as ‘karonda‘ (Hindi) are small acidic berries which grow on evergreen shrubs that are native to North America. They were first harvested by Native Americans and later by the Europeans (1). Since the dawn of the 21st century, cranberries have been touted to be super fruits due to their rich nutrient and antioxidant properties. Cranberries can be processed into juice, jam, sauce or candies. They are also available in a dried form.
Cranberry juice is a dark red, unsweetened juice made from whole cranberries. The purest form of this juice is 100% preservative free and with no added color or flavor. It is very strong and tart, and is generally consumed after diluting with water. Doctors typically recommend the unsweetened variety rather than the sweetened packaged kinds that are found in the market these days.
Pure cranberry juice offers a myriad of health and beauty benefits on account of its high nutritional value. Let’s look at how cranberries are beneficial for us and how we can include them in our health routine.
Nutritional Value Of Cranberry Juice:
- A cup of cranberries possesses 8983 antioxidant capacity.
- It contains anthocyanin flavonoids, sianidin, peonidin, quercetin, tannins and 87.13g of water per 100 g. It is a good source of salicylic acid and Vitamin C.
- It nourishes the body with carbohydrates, proteins, minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, E and K.
Cranberry Juice Benefits:
a. Health Benefits Of Cranberry Juice:
Cranberry is a versatile fruit with far-reaching health benefits. Its medicinal properties have been recognized since centuries. Native Americans used raw cranberries to dress wounds. The phytonutrients found in cranberry juice help prevent a host of health problems. Cranberries are a very good source of antioxidants too. Antioxidants are compounds that can either be manufactured naturally by the body or ingested from food and drinks. Antioxidants slow down and prevent the oxidation process through their ability to stabilize free radicals by donating an electron. Flavonoids and polyphenols found in cranberry juice fix and prevent the damage of cells, lowering the risk of infections.
Let us look into the health benefits of cranberry juice:
1. Prevents Urinary Tract Infections:
- Urinary tract infection refers to the presence of microorganisms in the urine beyond the permissible limit. There is significant evidence that suggests that cranberry juice helps to prevent urinary tract infection(2).
- The proanthocyanidins found in cranberry juice prevent the bacteria from binding to the cells of the bladder walls. These compounds prevent the bacteria from multiplying further and flush them out of the body through urine.
- This juice makes the urine more acidic, thus creating an environment that is inhospitable for the infection-causing bacteria to thrive. Drinking cranberry juice regularly can prevent recurring tract infections in middle-aged and pregnant women.
2. Anti-tumor Properties:
- The polyphenol compound present in cranberry has anti-tumor effects.
- Regular consumption of cranberry juice inhibits the development and spread of lung, breast, colon and prostate tumors(3).
- The presence of salicylic acid reduces swelling and prevents the formation of blood clots which can lead to tumor.
3. Improves Cardiovascular Health:
- Cranberry juice lowers the risk of developing heart-related ailments and improves cardiovascular health.
- The flavonoids and antioxidants present in cranberries decrease the threat of atherosclerosis, a condition in which the arteries get constricted owing to the accumulation of fat in them. This obstructs the flow of oxygen-rich blood to various parts of the body which can lead to heart attack or stroke. These compounds found in cranberries suppress the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein and encourage the formation of blood platelets (4).
4. Combats Tooth Decay:
- Cranberry juice is also known to prevent tooth decay. Proanthocyanidin, found in cranberries, inhibits the growth of bacteria that cause plaque and prevents the decay of teeth due to development of cavities (5).
- Good dental hygiene along with a moderate consumption of cranberry juice disrupts the mechanism of pathogenesis and promotes good dental health.
- Unsweetened cranberry juice decreases the incidence of the bacteria that are found in the mouth and combats bad breath too. A healthy dose of this juice ensures clean teeth at all times.
5. Fights Cancer:
- Incorporating cranberry juice in the daily diet can even prevent the occurrence of certain types of cancers (6).
- The proanthocyanidin in cranberries inhibits the growth of cancer cells in the body.
- Studies have concluded that a diet rich in flavonoids reduces the risk of cancer and the mortality due to it.
- The anti-carcinogenic compounds found in this juice hinder the growth of cancer cells, particularly those of colon and prostate cancer. It hinders the growth of micro-tumors in the blood cells and prevents their unrestrained growth. Certain chemicals in cranberries thwart the incidence of breast cancer too.
6. Fights Common Infections:
- Cranberry juice is also effective in curing infections like cold, flu and sore throat (7).
- It also soothes the respiratory tract and inhibits the growth of certain strains of haemophilus influenzae which are a common cause of respiratory and ear infections in children.
- Several researches have indicated that cranberry juice protects the brain from neurological damage and other brain-related diseases.
7. Soothes Discomfort Caused Due To Ulcers:
- The flavonoid content of cranberry juice reduces the risk of developing stomach disorders like peptic ulcer by inhibiting the growth of helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that causes infection in the stomach (8).
- A study has revealed that patients who consumed cranberry juice reported twice the relief when compared to those who did not consume it.
8. Prevents Scurvy:
- The high vitamin C content in cranberry juice is extremely vital for the production of collagen in the body which is responsible for the healthy functioning of the tissues.
- This is beneficial in preventing the occurrence of scurvy and other related diseases (9).
9. Soothes Inflammation:
- The anti-inflammatory properties of cranberry juice work extremely well in treating inflammation, particularly lung inflammation, caused by the influenza virus.
- Non-dialyzable material present in cranberries obstructs the virus from sticking to the cells, thereby preventing infections (10).
10. Aids Weight Loss:
- Cranberry juice has an emulsifying effect on the fats deposited in the body which, in turn, help in losing weight.
- Owing to its fiber content, there is a tendency to stay satiated for a longer period of time
11. Boosts Immunity:
- The juice of cranberries is rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals which promote a healthy immune system.
- It also eases the symptoms of age-related problems like memory loss, lack of coordination etc (12).
12. Curbs Yeast Infection:
- Cranberries are also known to curb a rare kind of infection known as yeast infection. Yeast infection is caused due to an overgrowth of naturally occurring bacteria in the body and occurs mostly in men and children (13).
- This juice contains substances that render the bacteria ineffective to cling to the walls of the mouth, intestines or urinary tract. Fresh cranberry juice flushes out yeast and other excess fungi from the body.
13. Prevents Kidney Stones:
- The calcium present in cranberry juice strengthens the teeth and bones, thereby reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis.
- It also contains quinic acid which is beneficial in preventing the formation of kidney stones (14).
b. Skin Benefits Of Cranberry Juice:
Cranberries offer a plethora of benefits to the skin. Cranberry juice regenerates, moisturizes and brightens the skin. It is effective in treating wrinkles that are primarily caused due to free radicals.
14. Anti- Aging Properties:
- With its high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins C, B3 and B5, drinking cranberry juice everyday not only enhances the turnover of cells, but also shields them against any damage caused due to environmental factors (15).
- The free radicals present in the environment are responsible for the formation of wrinkles, redness, pigmentation and fine lines on the skin.
- Antioxidants in cranberry juice combat the free radicals by supplying the missing electrons, reducing the damage caused and slowing down the aging process.
15. Acts as a Toner:
- The acidic nature of cranberry juice also helps people with oily skin (16).
- The enzymes present in this fruit exfoliate dead skin and unclog the sebaceous glands which prevent the formation of sebum.
- Mix cranberry juice along with honey and rub it on the face.
- Leave it on for 20 minutes and then wash it off with lukewarm water. This instant mix works as a wonderful toner for the skin.
16. Firms Up the Skin:
- Vitamin C in cranberry juice is crucial for the production of hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, the amino acids which are required for the production of collagen in the body.
- Collagen helps the blood vessels under the skin carry oxygen and other nutrients which, in turn, soften and firm up the skin and make it look young and radiant.
- This juice is a favorite as it offers ample protection against the harsh winter weather conditions. Consumption of cranberry juice will help keep the skin smooth and supple even during winters (17).
17. Treats Acne:
- The antiseptic properties of this juice are very effective for treating acne and boils on the skin.
- Cranberry juice is rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant, which is very effective in minimizing acne and pimples (18).
- A mask made with cranberry juice as one of the primary ingredients brightens the skin and gives an instant fresh look.
- Mix cranberry juice with orange peel powder and a bit of honey. Make a fine paste of it.
- Apply it all over the face and leave it on for 20 minutes. When applied on a regular basis, it is sure to give the skin a lighter tone.
c. Hair Benefits Of Cranberry Juice:
18. Promotes Hair Growth:
- Cranberry juice is considered to be one of the best fruit juices for long and lustrous hair.
- Vitamins A and C that are present in cranberry juice are the two main vitamins that promote the growth of healthy hair. Regular consumption of cranberry juice prevents hair loss and promotes the growth of hair (19).
19. Prevents Psoriasis and Alopecia:
- The antiseptic and antifungal properties of this juice prevent dandruff, psoriasis and other scalp-related problems (20).
Cranberry juice, when applied topically on the scalp, helps to get rid of these conditions. The vitamin C in cranberry juice is an essential nutrient to treat damaged hair and prevent a variety of hair disorders. Cranberry juice can help to combat alopecia and male baldness.
20. A Natural Hair Color:
- It can be used to color the hair.
- Mix a cup of pure cranberry juice with 1/4th cup of water.
- Use this as a final rinse after washing the hair. This rinse works great on hair of darker shade, and brings out the rich red hue of the hair, especially in sunlight.
Cranberry Juice Side Effects:
- Though there are multiple benefits of this tart juice, care should be taken to consume it in moderation. Cranberry juice is not a cure for everything related to the urinary system.
- People suffering from interstitial cystitis must strictly avoid cranberry juice. Interstitial cystitis is a painful bladder disease which occurs when the lining of the bladder becomes damaged and allows urine to come in contact with sensitive tissue. The condition worsens with the consumption of cranberry juice.
- Too much of this juice can cause wearing of the teeth enamel.
- People suffering from diabetes and stomach problems should also exercise caution while drinking cranberry juice. Too much of this juice can lead to an upset stomach, diarrhea and elevated blood sugar levels.
- Cranberry juice is also known to interfere with some medication, especially heart medicines. The combination of cranberry juice and heart medicines can lead to internal bleeding which, if unnoticed, can even be life-threatening. Those under medication should consult a doctor before including this juice in their daily diet.
Cranberry juice is a great addition to the daily diet of the entire family as its benefits can be reaped by both adults and children alike. Plus it’s delicious! Just ensure that you consult a doctor about the recommended dosage of the juice.
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