Cranberries are part of the heather family of berries which also includes blueberries. While there are various types of cranberries, the most common is the vaccinium macrocarpon which grows in North America. Of course, the most well-known feature of cranberries is their sour and sharp taste, which is probably why they are not commonly eaten raw. Instead, cranberries are often turned into juice and are sweetened in combination with other fruit juices such as apple. In terms of health benefits, cranberries are known to be effective in preventing and treating urinary tract infections.
What are the Main Nutritional Components of Cranberries?
Cranberries primarily contain carbohydrates and fiber including insoluble fiber like cellulose, pectin, and hemicelluloses. As soluble fibers are also present, excessive consumption of this fruit is inadvisable as it can cause diarrhea.
Other nutrients that you get from consuming cranberries include vitamin C, manganese, vitamin E, vitamin K1, and copper. All of these make cranberry a veritable source of important vitamins and minerals for the body.
Cranberry against Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria and are most common among women. The bacterium commonly linked to this health problem is Escherichia coli which is a form of intestinal bacteria. Escherichia coli attaches to the inner surface of the urinary tract and may cause blockage and pain when urinating. A-Type Proanthocyanidins is a type of phytonutrient that found in cranberries. This phytonutrient specifically targets E. coli and prevents it from attaching itself to the inner wall of the urinary tract. This allows the body to easily flush out this bacterium, preventing infection from taking place.
Recent medical studies have shown that taking cranberry, either in pure juice form or supplement, can effectively reduce the risk of, and even prevent, urinary tract infections in both children and adults.
However, it is important that you understand the importance of the processing method when cranberries are prepared for consumption. It is best that you choose a formula that is pure and natural to gain the optimal health benefits.
Other Known Health Benefits of Cranberries for the Body
Cranberries can also help prevent stomach cancers from developing. The A-type proanthocyanidins can help cleanse the urinary and digestive tract of bacteria, including H. Pylori which have been linked to the development of cancer cells within the digestive system. A study has been conducted wherein children infected with H. Pylori were given pure cranberry juice for three straight weeks. Results showed that some 17% of the children had the infection suppressed.
Cranberries are a great source of vitamins and minerals. They have numerous health benefits and are a source of unique compounds that can help strengthen your urinary tract and digestive system. They can even prevent serious ailments such as stomach cancer. However, cranberries can also cause negative side effects if consumed excessively. Moderation is the key.