The cranberry has long been known for its beneficial action on the urinary tract and other health properties. But how much do we really know about this potent little red berry and its application to our overall health? This article discusses the powerful nutrition properties of the cranberry and what it can do for you.
The use of Cranberries throughout History...
The name cranberry comes from the Dutch pronunciation of ‘crane berry’ as the flowers of the cranberry plant are said to look like the head and neck of the crane bird. History has shown that Native Americans and indigenous tribes have used cranberries for many years to help heal wounds and tumours as well as for bladder ailments and kidney disease.
Nutrition of Raw Cranberries
The raw berry is a powerhouse of nutrition, here is a basic nutrition profile of a raw cranberry (100 grams):
- 5 of fibre
- 22mg of Omega 3
- 33mg of Omega 6
- 1mg of Vitamin B6
- 3mg of Vitamin C
- 2mg of Vitamin E
- 1mcg of Vitamin K
- 4mg of Manganese
- 1mg of Copper
- 85mg of Potassium
The active compound of Cranberry is called the proanthocyanidin, this is what gives cranberry its rich maroon colour. A proanthocyanidin is a potent antioxidant. An antioxidant does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s role within the body is to prevent oxidation and damage to our cells and tissues. In fact, proanthocyanidins are one of the strongest antioxidants according to science. This is measured on something called an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) scale. Cranberry has 1750 ORAC units per grams. For context, a grapefruit has an ORAC score of 483 and oranges a score of 750.
Health Benefits of Cranberries
Urinary Tract Infections
Old wives' tale or scientific fact – well, a bit of both. When most people get a UTI they turn to cranberry juice. This might work, but only if the cranberry juice is unsweetened. If you have a UTI or suffer from chronic UTIs then you are better off using cranberry extracts or eating them raw. The Cranberry is effective for a triad of reasons, these are it’s natural components, D-mannose, Proanthocyanidins and Vitamin C. Proanthocyanidins and D-mannose have been shown to prevent the UTI-causing bacteria (Escherichia coli) from adhering to the lining of the urinary tract. One study followed the health of 12 women for 2 years. These women experienced ‘consistent’ UTIs (a minimum of 6 a year). In this time they were given a 200mg Cranberry supplement. After 2 years of all 12 of the women did not have a single UTI diagnosis. Following this, 8 of the women continued to be UTI free for 2 further years.
As you will see above under ‘Nutrition of raw cranberries’, Cranberries are rich in immune supporting nutrients including Vitamin C, B6 and Copper. These nutrients have been shown to contributes to the normal function of the immune system. One study found that participants who took a cranberry drink for 10 weeks saw an x5 increase in T-helper cells which play an essential role in the immune response.
The resounding benefit of cranberries has been identified as supporting the gut microbiota which has applications to not only cardiovascular health but immune health, metabolism and a reduction in inflammation. One 2020 review found that taking cranberry significantly reduced systolic blood pressure and HDL cholesterol.
Vytaliving Cranberry Products
Vytaliving stocks two cranberry items, cranberry 5000mg and cranberry relief. The cranberry 5000mg contains a high strength 40:1 extract with 7% proanthocyanidins. We recommend that you take two tablets a day for and efficacious dosage of 10000mg of cranberry per day. Then, we have a more targeted formula which was specifically blended for urinary health. This formula contains, high strength cranberry extract, green tea extract, Vitamin C and D-mannose.