Sunday, March 31, 2013

Article # 435. Cranberry Health Benefits

Cranberries are a great tasting berry, delicious in juices, as a dried fruit and fresh in a variety of recipes. Cranberries also have unique and amazing health benefits.
As you probably know, most health professionals believe that there is a clear association between a diet high in fruits and vegetables and a low risk of chronic disease. Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients, naturally derived from plant compounds. In particular, antioxidants — a group of extremely beneficial phytonutrients, are increasingly being shown to contribute to improving human health.
Cranberries are loaded with unique antioxidants and other phytonutrients that may protect against heart disease, cancer and variety of other diseases. A significant body of research has been completed that points to cranberries being a powerful addition to any diet.
Cranberries have also been shown to prevent or reduce urinary tract infections. The proanthocyanidins (PACS) in cranberries prevent the adhesion of certain bacteria, including E. coli to the urinary tract wall. Cranberries are the only fruit that contain these unique and powerful proanthocyanidins. The anti-adhesion properties of the cranberry may also inhibit the bacteria associated with gum disease and stomach ulcers.
Cranberries are a superfood that you should enjoy all year round. Cranberries have vitamin C and fiber, and are only 45 calories per cup. In disease-fighting antioxidants, cranberries outrank nearly every fruit and vegetable--including strawberries, spinach, broccoli, red grapes, apples, raspberries, and cherries.

Health benefits of Cranberries

Delicious, tart cranberries have significantly high amounts of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals calledpro-anthocyanidins (PAC’s). Scientific studies have shown that consumption of berries have potential health benefits against cancer, aging and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections.

Antioxidant compounds in cranberries such as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC’s), anthocyanidin flavonoids, cyanidin, peonidin and quercetin may prevent cardiovascular disease by counteracting against cholesterol plaque formation in the heart and blood vessels. Further, these compounds help the human body lower LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL-good cholesterol levels in the blood.

Research studies show that cranberry juice consumption offers protection against gram-negative bacterial infections such as E.coli in the urinary system by inhibiting bacterial-attachment to the bladder and urethra.

Consumption of cranberries turns urine acidic. This, together with the bacterial anti-adhesion property of cranberry juice helps prevent the formation of alkaline (calcium ammonium phosphate) stones in the urinary tract by working against proteus bacterial-infections.

Further, the berries prevent plaque formation on the tooth surface by interfering with the ability of another gram-negative bacterium, Streptococcus mutans, to stick to the surface. It thus helps prevent the development of cavities in a way similar to the action in preventing urinary tract infections.

In addition, the berries are an also good source of many vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin A, ß-carotene, lutein, zea-xanthin, and folate and minerals like potassium, and manganese.

Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity or ORAC (measurement of antioxidant strength of food items) demonstrates cranberry at an ORAC score of 9584 µmol TE units per 100 g, one of the highest in the category of edible berries.


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