Health Benefits of Cranberries
Imagine a little red berry that fights cancer, age-related diseases like loss of memory, heart disease, ulcers, and even cavities. Sound to good to be true? Allow us to introduce our friend, the Cranberry!
In 1996 laboratory studies conducted by University of Illinois scientists and published in Planta Medica demonstrated the potential anti-cancer properties of cranberries. More recently researchers at the University of Western Ontario demonstrated, in animal models, that human breast cancer cells showed significantly lower incidence of tumor development when the experimental group's diet was supplemented with cranberries.
USDA scientists at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University have been finding promising results associated with diets high in antioxidants and other phytonutrients. Preliminary studies suggest that diets containing fruits and vegetables with high ORAC values may provide protection against chronic age-related afflictions like loss of coordination and loss of memory. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity which is a measure of the antioxidant activity for a particular food. Cranberries score very high on the ORAC scale at 1750 ORAC units per 3.5 oz. serving.
A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that a unique cranberry juice component, a high-molecular-weight nondialysable material (NDM), has the ability to reverse and inhibit the co-aggregation of certain oral bacteria responsible for dental plaque and periodontal disease in vitro. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition reported on a preliminary clinical trial using a mouthwash containing cranberry NDM. Saliva samples of the experimental group showed a two order of magnitude reduction in Streptococcus Mutans compared with the placebo group. This is exciting news because a large percentage of cavities can be attributed to Streptococcus Mutans.
Flavonoids have been shown to function as potent antioxidants both in vitro and in vivo and may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (clogged arteries). Cranberries contain significant amounts of flavonoids and polyphenolic compounds that have been demonstrated to inhibit LDL (bad cholesterol) oxidation. Ongoing research continues to suggest that cranberries may offer a natural defense against atherosclerosis.
Peptic ulcers are increasingly being attributed to infection by Helicobacter pylori bacteria, as pposed to stress and/or stomach acidity. A high-molecular-weight nondialysable constituent of cranberry juice has been shown to inhibit the adhesion of H. pylori to human gastric mucus in vitro. These preliminary results suggest that cranberry may be beneficial in the prevention of peptic ulcers through the inhibition of H. pylori adhesion to gastric mucus and stomach tissue.