Cranberries (Vaccinium oxycoccos or Vaccinium macrocarpon) are small, red berries native to the United States and Canada. They grow on creeping, low-lying vines, and do best in peat-based soil and damp conditions. Cranberries are closely related to blueberries, bilberries, and huckleberries.
The United States is the world’s largest producer of cranberries. The state of Wisconsin alone produced 4.6 million barrels in 2019.
Cranberry juice might not be as popular as orange or apple juice, but it’s a delicious beverage with many health benefits. Some people drink it to help prevent urinary tract infections. While this is one of the most common reasons why people drink it, cranberry juice offers several other health benefits.
In addition to antioxidants, cranberry juice offers small amounts of several vitamins and minerals, including:
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin K
One cup of unsweetened cranberry juice contains:
- 116 calories
- 1 gram of protein
- 0 grams of fat
- 31 grams of carbohydrates
- 0 grams of fiber
- 31 grams of sugar
Potential Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice is an excellent source of vitamin C and provides 39% of your recommended daily allowance in an 8-ounce serving. Vitamin C plays many important roles in the body. A powerful antioxidant, it helps stop free radicals from damaging cells and DNA in your body. This may help reduce your risk of developing various diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and more.
Vitamin C isn’t the only antioxidant in cranberry juice. An 8-ounce glass has approximately 20% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin E, which is essential for the health of your skin, blood vessels, and heart.
Cranberry juice also has several other antioxidant compounds, including:
These antioxidants are mainly found in the skins of fresh cranberries. Since cranberry juice doesn’t contain the skins it has lower concentrations of these antioxidants.
Some other health benefits of cranberry juice include:
Improved heart health. Anthocyanins in cranberry juice may help reduce hardening of the arteries. Several studies also show that cranberry juice may help reduce the chance of heart disease by improving cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure.
Stomach health. Antioxidants in cranberry juice, particularly A-type proanthocyanidins, can help prevent the growth of a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori that causes stomach ulcers. Drinking cranberry juice may help reduce infections of this bacteria.
Immune system strength. Cranberry juice is rich in vitamin C, which helps keep your immune system healthy and functioning properly. It fights against oxidative stress from free radicals and helps kill harmful bacteria. Some studies also link low vitamin C intake to poor immune function.
Infection prevention. One of the most common causes of urinary tract infections (UTI) is the bacteria E. coli. The A-type proanthocyanidins in cranberry juice may help prevent the bacteria from collecting on the walls of the bladder and urinary tract. This reduces the risk of developing a UTI. Keep in mind that while cranberry juice may help reduce the risk of UTI, it can’t cure an active infection once one develops.
Potential Risks of Cranberry Juice
Make sure to read the labels of any cranberry juice brands you buy. Some brands add sugar. Drinking too much sugar can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, and blood sugar spikes.
Cranberry juice may also cause problems with certain blood thinning medications. If you take blood thinners, be sure to speak with your doctor about how much cranberry juice is safe to drink.