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Feb 24, 2014

The Benefits of Cranberries


 
Researchers at the American Society for Nutrition’s 2013 Advances and Controversies in Clinical Nutrition Conference in Washington D.C. reviewed new and existing evidence underscoring the positive health benefits of cranberry consumption.
 
David Baer, Ph.D., USDA-Agricultural Research Service Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, discussed the role foods rich in polyphenols (plant compounds found in wine, tea and many common fruits, including cranberries) could play in improving whole body health. Baer talked about research findings suggesting the potential value of incorporating polyphenol-rich foods like cranberries into the diet.

According to data, simply adding eight ounces of cranberry juice per day or one serving of dried cranberries to consumers’ diets would nearly double the U.S. population’s intake of flavonoids, a category of polyphenols found in colorful fruits and vegetables linked to improved cardiovascular and cellular health as well as reduced inflammation. A hundred grams of cranberries contains more polyphenolic antioxidants than the equivalent amount of strawberries, broccoli, white grapes, bananas or apples.
Janet Novotny, Ph.D, of the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center discussed the emerging researching linking cranberries and improved heart health. A double blind placebo controlled clinical study found that subjects drinking low calorie cranberry juice cocktail had significantly lower C-reactive protein and diastolic blood pressure than subjects on a placebo beverage.  Novotny also presented the findings of a 2008 study suggesting that cranberries can help with blood flow through the arteries.
Researchers also highlighted the well-known power of cranberries in fighting urinary tract infections, the second most common bacterial infection, which poses a significant public health challenge in the U.S.  With more than 15 million reported cases of urinary tract infections in the U.S per year, the infection accounts for $8.28 billion in healthcare costs.