Health Benefits of Cranberries

Cranberry is a kind of evergreen shrub that grows in wet habitats, such as bogs and wetlands. It is native to the north eastern and north central parts of the United States and is commonly referred to as American cranberry or bearberry. 

The fruit produced by this shrub is a popular culinary ingredient. Due to their naturally tart taste, cranberries are often cooked, dried, or juiced before they are consumed. 

Cranberry can also be taken as a supplement in the form of a capsule. 

Health Benefits

Cranberries are packed full of important nutrients and minerals which help treat infections and aid in treatments of diseases. Researchers have also identified over two dozen antioxidant phytonutrients present in cranberries. Antioxidants help protect your cells from damage that can lead to serious diseases.

Researchers have also identified over two dozen antioxidant phytonutrients present in cranberries.

Because of these nutrients and more, cranberries provide numerous health benefits. They can:

Prevent Urinary Tract Infections

Close to 60% of women will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their life. Cranberries contain an active ingredient (A-type proanthocyanidins) that can prevent the adherence of bacteria to your bladder wall, which in turn helps protect you against pesky UTIs.

Improve Cancer Treatments

Cranberry extracts have anticancer and chemopreventive properties due to their flavonoid compounds, which are known to boost your immune system. Data suggests that these compounds might improve treatments for acute myeloid leukemia.

Reduce Swelling

Drinking cranberry juice regularly increases your body's levels of salicylic acid, which is an anti-inflammatory compound that reduces swelling.

Prevent Blood Clots

The high concentration of salicylic acid in cranberries provides similar effects as aspirin, which is a salicylate. Drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements can help prevent blood clots by acting as a blood thinner. However, you should be careful not to consume too much cranberry if you take aspirin regularly or have an aspirin allergy.

Ease Cold and Flu Symptoms 

Drinking cranberry juice increases the amount of cells your body has on the line of defense for immune responses. This may be related to reducing the number of symptoms associated with the common cold or flu.

Continued

Nutrition Information

There is a long list of nutrients in cranberries. They are packed with vitamins, such as:

They also have high amounts of the following minerals:

Nutrients per Serving

One cup of whole cranberries contains {U.S. Department of Agriculture: “Cranberries, raw.”}:

Portion Sizes

Cranberry products are generally considered safe. However, they can carry some risk if you eat too many. Too much cranberry can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea, especially in young children. 

Although cranberry juice helps with UTIs, too much of it can actually cause alternative damage in the urinary tract. Cranberry juice has a high amount of oxalate, which is a common component of kidney stones. Therefore, people with a history of kidney stones should keep their cranberry consumption to a minimum.

How to Prepare Cranberries

Cranberries are rarely eaten raw because of their tart, bitter taste. Most products or recipes using cranberries contain a large amount of sugar to balance out the tartness. They’re a common ingredient in sauces, smoothies, juices, jams, and baked desserts.

Dried cranberries are another popular way to eat this superfood. Although the berries still contain many of the same nutrients and minerals, large amounts of sugar are often added to the packages sold in your local grocery store.

Here are some ways to add cranberries into your diet:

  • Make cranberry sauce for thanksgiving dinner
  • Add cranberries into an pie with another fruit
  • Sprinkle dried cranberries into your yogurt or oatmeal
  • Drop fresh cranberries into your sangria
  • Blend cranberries into a salad dressing
  • Mix cranberries into a smoothie with other fruit and vegetables
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 14, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Family Physician: "Cranberry for Prevention of Urinary Tract Infections."

Blood Advances: "Cranberry A-type proanthocyanidins selectively target acute myeloid leukemia cells."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Know Your Limit for Added Sugars."

Cleveland Clinic: "Can Cranberry Stop Your UTIs?"

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: "Increased salicylate concentrations in urine of human volunteers after consumption of cranberry juice."

Mount Sinai: "Cranberry."

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Cranberry."

NutritionValue: "Cranberries, raw."

The Journal of Nutrition: "Consumption of cranberry polyphenols enhances human γδ-T cell proliferation and reduces the number of symptoms associated with colds and influenza: a randomized, placebo-controlled intervention study."

The World's Healthiest Foods: "Cranberries."

Urology: "Dietary supplementation with cranberry concentrate tablets may increase the risk of nephrolithiasis."

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination

Get Diet and Fitness Tips In Your Inbox

Eat better and exercise smarter. Sign up for the Food & Fitness newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.