Highlights Heart Health, Urinary and Gastrointestinal Tract and other Metabolic
CARVER, Mass., Nov. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Cranberries are more than a holiday
favorite, given their remarkable nutritional and health benefits. A new research
review published in the international journal Advances in Nutrition provides
reasons why these tiny berries can be front and center and not just a side dish.
The review authors conclude that cranberries provide unique bioactive compounds
that may help reduce the incidence of certain infections, improve heart health
and temper inflammation.
Ten worldwide experts in cranberry and health research contributed to the
article, including scientists and medical experts from Tufts University,
Pennsylvania State University, Boston University, Rutgers University, French
National Institute for Agricultural Research, University of East Anglia in the
United Kingdom and Heinrich-Heine-University in Germany. The authors included
more than 150 published research studies to create the most thorough and
up-to-date review of the cranberry nutrition and human health research.
"Hundreds of studies show that the bioactive compounds found in cranberries
improve health," said lead author Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, FASN, FACN, CNS,
Director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory and Professor in the Friedman
School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. "For example, the
polyphenols found in cranberries have been shown to promote a healthy urinary
tract and exert protective benefits for cardiovascular disease and other chronic
Based on the totality of the published cranberry research, the authors concluded
that the cranberry fruit is truly special because of the A-type
proanthocyanidins (a polyphenol from the flavanol family), in contrast to the
B-type proanthocyanidins present in most other types of berries and fruit. The
A-type proanthocyanidins appear to provide the anti-adhesion benefits that help
protect against urinary tract infections (UTI), which affect more than 15
million U.S. women each year. They present evidence suggesting that cranberries
may also reduce the recurrence of UTIs - an important approach for relying less
on antibiotic treatment for the condition.
Cranberry Health Benefits Extend Beyond Urinary Tract Health
The authors also cite data that shows the cranberry may improve cardiovascular
health by improving blood cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure,
inflammation and oxidative stress. Cranberries have been shown to help support
endothelial function and reduce arterial stiffness. Together, these benefits may
promote overall health and functioning of blood vessels to help slow the
progression of atherogenesis and plaque formation, which can lead to heart
attacks and stroke.
Need Fruit? Eat More Cranberries
While all fruit contributes necessary vitamins and minerals to the diet, berry
fruits offer a particularly rich source of health-promoting polyphenols. Because
of their tart taste and very low natural sugar content, sugar is often added to
cranberry products for palatability. Even with added sugar, cranberry products
typically have a comparable amount of sugar to other unsweetened fruit juices
and dried fruit products. Additionally, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for
Americans asserts that the best use of calories from added sweeteners is for
improving the palatability of nutrient-rich foods, as is the case when adding
sugar to cranberries. As an additional option, non-nutritive sweeteners are used
to produce low calorie versions of cranberry products. Americans can help
increase their fruit intake by incorporating cranberries and cranberry products
into their diet and there is no need to wait for the holidays - cranberries can
be enjoyed year round - fresh, frozen, dried, or in a juice or sauce.
"While we look forward to more research to better understand how cranberries
affect our well-being and longevity, we know that including cranberries and
cranberry products in a healthy diet is a great way to increase fruit intake,"
said Dr. Blumberg.
The Cranberry Institute provided support for the research article. For more
information about the Cranberry Institute, the health benefits of cranberries
and current scientific research visit www.CranberryInstitute.org.
About the Cranberry Institute
The Cranberry Institute is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1951 to
further the success of cranberry growers and the industry in the Americas
through health, agricultural and environmental stewardship research as well as
cranberry promotion and education. The Cranberry Institute is funded voluntarily
by Supporting Members that handle, process, and sell cranberries. Supporting
Members are represented in national and international regulatory matters and
research efforts are done on their behalf.
SOURCE The Cranberry Institute