The use of cranberry as a medicinal solution to a wide spectrum of health problems goes back many centuries and spans many civilizations, perhaps the most well reported of which is the Native Indians of North America.

Not only are cranberries very healthy in terms of nutritional content, being low in calories and high in vitamins and fiber, they also possess many surprising and powerful chemical compounds which are being investigated by health professionals worldwide as possible solutions to some of the world’s most pressing health problems, including heart disease and cancer.

The most effective “Super-fruit”

Cranberries have quite recently established a status as a so-called ‘super-fruit’, due to their high concentration of several beneficial substances, including polyphenal antioxidants, which are being tested currently with regard to their beneficial effects on the immune system and cardiovascular system, as well as possible anti-cancer effects.

Many studies have also indicated that cranberry juice contains agents which prevent harmful bacteria from lingering in the urinary system, making it an effective prevention strategy for urinary tract infections and other related problems.

Clinical trials conducted using patients who would tend to be at a higher risk of such infections, such as those with spinal cord injuries (requiring bladder catheterization), observed a reduced rate of bacterial infections in those patients who drank cranberry juice daily.

Many dentists are also beginning to promote cranberry juice as a protector of teeth. It contains certain chemicals known as NDMs, or non-dializable materials, which are known to prevent the build-up of plaque that causes tooth decay.

Additionally, cranberry juice has shown promise as a preventative treatment for kidney stones, with the incidence and severity of kidney stones apparently reduced in people who regularly drank the juice.

Cranberry gives tough challenge to cancer

Fresh cranberries have incredibly high levels of peonidin, an anthcyanidin flavanoid, and two other similar compounds petunidin and cyanidin.

These specific chemical compounds have amazed scientists with their ability to inhibit and kill many different types of cancer cells under laboratory conditions.

For this reason, there is considerable buzz about the potential of extracting a powerful cancer treatment drug from cranberries, and many such studies are currently underway investigating possible different methods of approaching this task.

Cranberries also contain substantial amounts of tannins, which are utilized by the body in several different ways including in the clotting of blood, and also protect against infections of the urinary tract and the formation of plaque by bacteria in the mouth.

Suggested by medical experts

The inhibition action which makes cranberries an effective treatment against urinary tract infections is the same as that which is also thought by many medical professionals to protect against gastric ulcers and other forms of digestive tract problems that are caused by bacteria.

Recent studies show that cranberry juice effectively inhibits the action of the H. Pylori bacteria responsible for the overwhelming majority of these ulcers and infections.

The H. Pylori bacteria combated by cranberry juice is also known to be at least partially responsible for causing acid reflux, inflammation of the stomach, and stomach cancer.

Heart patients can refer Cranberry

The antioxidants that so excite investigators into the possible anti-cancer effects of cranberry juice are also thought to be effective at preventing atherosclerosis, and lowering levels of LDL cholesterol, or ‘bad’ cholesterol in the bloodstream.

This has the knock-on effect of reducing a persons risk of suffering from numerous other types of cardiac problems, including angina, thrombosis, and even heart attacks.

Also reduces ageing problems

Additionally, these antioxidants have been demonstrated in recent studies to have a possible beneficial effect on the reduction of age-related problems such as memory loss and poor coordination.

Scientists believe that the antioxidants present in high concentrations in cranberries and the juice is extremely effective at fighting the harmful free radicals that damage brain cells, especially in older people, causing myriad problems relating to the inhibition and loss of proper cognitive function.

Further studies into these effects are currently ongoing.

Recommended dosage

By far the most popular way of adding regular serving of cranberry to the diet is a simple glass of cranberry juice taken once a day, usually first thing in the morning.

Around six ounces of pure cranberry juice, or eighteen ounces of diluted cranberry juice, is considered to be one serving for the purposes of ensuring optimal health benefit for the average individual.

The majority of cranberry drinks in the supermarket are what is referred to as cranberry juice ‘cocktails’, and fall into the latter 18-ounce category as far as dosage is concerned.

Fresh cranberries are just as good, and delicious, as juice, and cranberry extract is also available on its own in capsule, powder and pastille form, as well as as a component of several multivitamin and mineral complexes.

Drink and be healthy!

It is not recommended to drink excessive amounts of cranberry juice, since the health benefits gained will not increase past a certain point and may in fact end up being counterproductive, as large quantities of cranberry juice have been known to cause stomach upsets and other minor health issues.

It would also, of course, be a lot of sugar for one person to consume.

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