There has been a lot of hype in the media over the years around the benefits of cranberry juice. Let’s dive into the research on the health benefits of cranberry juice and see if all the hype around cranberry juice is warranted.
Cranberry Juice for Urinary Tract Infections
You’ve probably heard more than once that cranberry juice is good for urinary tract infections (UTI). First, let’s address the myth that cranberry juice can cure a UTI. It is false that cranberry juice can treat or cure a urinary tract infection.
Cranberries contain compounds that can help prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract system but this will not treat an active urinary tract infection. 1 Some studies have shown that cranberry juice may help reduce the risk of UTIs occurring. One meta-analysis study found that healthy women who drank cranberry juice had 26% less risk of urinary tract infections. 2 The point is that cranberry juice may aid in preventing UTIs from occurring but cranberry juice will not treat an active infection.
Cranberry Juice for Heart Disease
Cranberries contain antioxidants and compounds that help prevent cell damage and have anti-inflammatory effects. Since inflammation plays a major role in many diseases, it is thought that cranberries may help reduce the risks of those diseases. In 2019, the European Journal of Nutrition published research that drinking a low-calorie cranberry juice improves antioxidant status and can reduce heart disease risks. 3
Other Health Benefits of Cranberries
If you want to get the full health benefits of cranberries it is more beneficial to incorporate eating actual cranberries into your regular diet instead of drinking cranberry juice or consuming a processed cranberry product. Another factor to consider is that many juices contain a high amount of added sugar which is not beneficial to health. According to the American Heart Association, the health benefits of cranberries include the following:
- Promoting digestive health
- High in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
- Promoting heart health
- May possibly improve blood pressure and cholesterol
- High in fiber
- May lower risks of certain types of cancer 4
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that cranberry juice may have some health benefits but more research is needed. Cranberry juice may help prevent UTIs but it cannot treat an active UTI. Consumers must be careful of how much-added sugar is in cranberry juice. Cranberries contain antioxidants and other compounds that can provide great health benefits. The best way to receive the health benefits of cranberries is to eat whole unprocessed cranberries.
- González de Llano D, Moreno-Arribas MV, Bartolomé B. Cranberry Polyphenols and Prevention against Urinary Tract Infections: Relevant Considerations. Molecules. 2020 Aug 1;25(15):3523. doi: 10.3390/molecules25153523. PMID: 32752183; PMCID: PMC7436188.
- Fu Z, Liska D, Talan D, Chung M. Cranberry Reduces the Risk of Urinary Tract Infection Recurrence in Otherwise Healthy Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Nutr. 2017 Dec;147(12):2282-2288. doi: 10.3945/jn.117.254961. Epub 2017 Oct 18. PMID: 29046404.
- Chew, B., Mathison, B., Kimble, L. et al. Chronic consumption of a low calorie, high polyphenol cranberry beverage attenuates inflammation and improves glucoregulation and HDL cholesterol in healthy overweight humans: a randomized controlled trial. Eur J Nutr 58, 1223–1235 (2019).
- Be thankful for cranberries’ health benefits all year long. www.heart.org. (2021, August 16). Retrieved July 8, 2022