Cranberries are the fruit of dwarf shrubs that are native to the cooler climates of the northern hemispheres. The cranberry shrubs grow especially well in acidic boglands, explaining the sharp/sour defining taste of the cranberry. The Northern part of USA is by far the biggest cultivator of cranberries worldwide, with the state of Wisconsin alone, providing over half of total USA cultivation. The bordering country of Canada is the second largest producer, with Eastern Europe, Chile and the Baltic states also providing a small percentage of overall worldwide cranberry cultivation.
Only 5% of harvested cranberries are actually sold to consumers as the whole berry. This is because the distinct sharp taste of the cranberry overwhelms its sweetness, making it a little too tart for most peoples’ taste. So the majority of cranberries are actually processed (and usually sweetened) into other products, of which cranberry juice is the most popular, followed by cranberry sauce and dried cranberries called craisins.
Cranberry Juice Benefits
The Native Americans are considered to be the first to use the benefits of cranberry juice for its healing properties. They brewed cranberries into a poultice to clean out poisons from wounds and also drank this poultice as a digestive aid. Today, the most popular and well known health benefit of cranberry juice is its ability to help prevent urinary tract infections (UTI’s). Besides this, there is research indicating that the health benefits of drinking cranberry juice also extends to anti-cancer properties, kidney stone prevention and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Cranberry Juice Benefits for UTI
Drinking cranberry juice to help heal a urinary tract infection (UTI) is its most famed and most applied health benefit. It has been used for 100’s of years for this purpose and now there is scientific studies to back up this home remedy for UTI’s. Several studies have shown that drinking cranberry juice can significantly reduce the chances of developing a UTI. In one such study, 193 elderly ladies were separated into two groups. One group was given 300ml of cranberry juice daily, while the other group was given a placebo. Those taking the cranberry juice were more than half as likely to develop a UTI than those taking the placebo.
So how does cranberry juice help prevent UTI? Here is a short video that explains it well.
The video below is advice from doctors actually telling us to use cranberry juice for curing UTI’s.
Cranberry Juice Benefits for Kidney Stones
The vast majority of kidney stones are calcium based. The calcium binds with other minerals such as phosphates to form hardened insoluble stones. Cranberry juice is unusual in that some of its acidity (called quinic acid) makes it to the kidneys and bladder intact. This increases the acidity of urine, and the subsequent change in PH inhibits calcium from joining with other minerals to form kidney stones. One study showed that patients drinking cranberry juice had 50% decreased urine levels of calcium and phosphate bonds. Such a decrease in these calcium bonds is therefore a major indicator that calcium based kidney stones will not develop.
If you have been diagnosed with any kind of kidney stones and are looking for natural methods that help to prevent further development visit kidney stones symptoms
Heart Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice
Dark red/purple fruits and berries contain two potent antioxidants – anthocyanins and resveratrol – known for their ability to help protect us from heart disease. Red grapes/wine, blueberries, the acai berries and cranberries are all good sources of these two antioxidants. Research has shown that both resveratrol and anthocyanins help to greatly improve our cholesterol profile. They both protect LDL “bad” cholesterol from oxidation, a process that hardens arteries causing atherosclerosis. Additionally, these antioxidants also raise HDL “good” cholesterol levels and help keep the blood thin – two factors that greatly reduce the incidence of heart disease.
There is also another less well known antioxidant found in cranberries as well as blueberries and red grapes called pterostilbene. Psterostilbene is a proven and powerful anti-cancer plant chemical. Recently it has also been discovered to aid in the metabolism of cholesterol, which is a major benefit in reducing overall cholesterol levels. As research continues, it is becoming more clear that pterostilbene might be just as powerful as the more well researched anthocyanins and resveratrol. Therefore contributing to the overall heart health and anti-cancer profile of cranberries, red grapes and other dark red/purple berries.
Darren and Veronica Haynes