A New Benefit of Drinking Cranberry Juice

Do you enjoy the tart taste of cranberry juice? Drinking cranberry juice not only a taste-bud tickler, but it could keep your heart healthy too. According to new research, you can boost heart health by enjoying a refreshing glass of cranberry juice.

Drink Cranberry Juice for Heart Health?

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that drinking cranberry juice helps to reduce arterial stiffness. Stiff arteries, especially stiffness in the mega-sized artery called the aorta, is linked to a greater risk of heart disease and stroke. When arteries are stiff and can’t relax properly, oxygen can’t be delivered as effectively to tissues and organs.

How does drinking cranberry juice help this situation? Cranberry juice contains natural antioxidants called anthocyanins that relax arteries so more blood and oxygen reach tissues. These anthyocyanins that give cranberries their deep red color have a variety of health benefits. They’re not only heart healthy, but they have anti-inflammatory benefits and may ward off cancer in animals.

In two small studies, researchers found that participants who drank two cups of cranberry juice had better blood flow and less arterial stiffness through their brachial arteries after drinking the juice. There was less arterial stiffness even four hours after drinking the cranberry juice.

This is certainly promising, but as researchers pointed out the cranberry beverage participants drank in the study was twice as concentrated as the juice you buy at the grocery store, so you may need twice as much to get the same benefits.

Other Benefits of Drinking Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice may help to prevent urinary tract infections by blocking bacterial attachment to the walls of the bladder, although research has been mixed on this. Other health benefits of the anthocyanins in cranberries are still being researcged, but preliminary studies show they may offset the effects of brain aging. In animals they slow down or block cancerous tumor growth.

Choose Your Cranberry Juice Wisely

Commercial cranberry juice is often high in sugar, although you can buy sugar-free cranberry juice that’s sweetened with artificial sweeteners. If you want to avoid synthetic sweeteners, buy a sugar-free cranberry concentrate at a health food store – and sweeten it yourself with a natural sweetener such as Stevia.

Don’t forget about other anthyocyanin-rich fruits such as currants, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and bilberries. Fruits that are dark red or purple in color are usually good sources of anthocyanins.

The Bottom Line?

Now there’s another good reason to drink cranberry juice and eat cranberries. Don’t save cranberries for the holiday season, make them a part of your healthy diet along with other heart-healthy fruits and vegetables.

References:

Circulation. 2006;113:657-663.

Nutraingredients.com. “Cranberry Shows Heart Health Benefits”