Friday, July 18, 2014

The Amazing Cranberry

Cranberries are a tart fruit popularly consumed in North America, especially during the winter months in a sauce form, and in the summer months in juice form.  However, the berry, being so tart, is difficult to eat without the accompaniment of something very sweet.  And with the fruit being so good for the body, it is such a shame to see it so adulterated with sugar and other sweeteners. 
But the cranberry is still a wonderful fruit with so many healing properties that even processed forms offer benefits.  As everyone knows, for example, women find comfort in knowing drinking cranberry juice will stave off a urinary tract infection (UTI), and even can dissolve kidney and bladder stones.  But taking cranberry extract regularly can also prevent UTI's, kidney and bladder stones, and reduce incidence of kidney infections.
Overwhelming evidence has indicated that taking cranberry extract can also aid in immune function while decreasing inflammation.  The powerful antioxidant compound responsible for all of this is oligomeric proanthocyanidine which works to remove bacteria, such as E-coli, out of the ureter and urethra.  What's more, the same compound acts as a kind of lubricant so bacteria cannot cling to the walls of the bladder, urethra, and ureter so re-population of any bacteria is virtually impossible.
The last great quality about the little berry is that fact that it reduces inflammation naturally while increasing immunity.  Not only does the berry contain high amounts of polyphenols, and proanthocianidines, but it also contains vitamins A, B-complex, C, E and K which helps with eyes, heart, blood, central nervous system, lymph glands, and skin health as well.  People who take a regular cranberry supplement have noticed a number of health benefits on top of urinary health and even some  people swear by it touting it as a super fruit.  Super fruit or not, the cranberry is an amazing little berry. 
As always, it is important to consult your physician before taking a daily supplement.  But also note that doing your own research is paramount when deciding to include something in your diet.   As I always say, health begins at the mouth; a decision we often take for granted until intervention is needed.  Nevertheless, adding the cranberry on salads, yogurt, or into desserts is a great way to boost your immune system while giving your meal that extra zing!

Howell, A. B; (2002) Cranberry proanthocyanidins and The Maintenance of Urinary Tract Health.  Critical reviews in food science and nutrition.

Kessler, T; Jansen, B; Hesse A; (2002) Effect of Blackcurrant-,Cranberry and Plum Juice Consumption on Risk Factors Associated With Kidney Stone Formation. European journal of clinical nutrition.

Ofek, I; Goldhar, J; Zafriri, D; Lis, H; Adar R. (1991).  Anti-Escherichia Coli Adhesin Activity of Cranberry and Blueberry Juices. New England Journal of Medicine.

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