Cranberry Juice: Better Health, Longer Life and a Slimmer Waistline
Cranberries have a known track record when it comes to urinary tract health, but recent studies have shown that this small berry packs a lot more in health benefits.
Two recent studies1,2 analyzing four years' worth of data from the Center for Disease Control's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), found that those who regularly drink cranberry juice are more likely to:
- be normal weight
- have significantly lower waist circumference
- show improved heart health characteristics
Cranberries provide a rich source of polyphenols - protective compounds that support our body's natural defences and help us achieve a balanced lifestyle to improve health.
Now, a new study has shown that drinking low-calorie cranberry juice may help lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided eight weeks' worth of meals to 56 healthy adult volunteers (average 50 years of age).
One group drank a glass (240ml) of low-calorie cranberry juice, twice a day; the other group drank a placebo drink that looked and tasted similar to cranberry juice.
"At the start and end of the experiment, the researchers measured things like blood pressure, blood sugar levels, blood lipids, as well as C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation," explained Christina Khoo, PhD, Director of Research Sciences at Ocean Spray.
"All of these measurements come together to tell a story. The worse off these numbers are in an individual, the more likely he or she will face a health condition like diabetes, heart disease or stroke in the future."
Individuals drinking the two glasses of low-calorie cranberry juice a day improved across all these measures. It's a change that adds up, and could be associated with a 10 percent lower risk of heart disease and a 15 percent lower risk of stroke3.
The reductions in blood pressure numbers alone matched those achieved from top-rated anti hypertension diets such as DASH4 which is the gold standard for lowering blood pressure.
"These findings suggest that polyphenols help to protect our bodies, and may be adept at keeping a large number of ailments at bay," said Dr. Khoo.
"Luckily for us, a rich source of polyphenols is only a glass of cranberry juice away. Among the commonly consumed fruits in our diets, cranberries boast some of the highest levels of polyphenols - more than apples, blueberries, grapes or cherries."
Incorporating these tart-tasting berries into our daily diets is an easy and practical lifestyle approach that holds notable promise for improving health.
In addition to the cardiometobolic effects of polyphenols, cranberries also contain unique proanthocyanidins (PACs) that may help prevent certain bacteria from sticking inside the body.
What You Can Do
The obvious thing, and probably the easiest, is to drink a couple of glasses of low calorie cranberry juice each day.
Here's some options:
- Ocean Spray, Cranberry Classic, Light, 19 cals per 240 ml glass
- Aldi Rio Doro Cranberry Juice. Be Light, 38 cals per 240 ml glass
- Boots Shapers Cranberry Juice, 130 cals per 240 ml glass
You'll find many more types and brands of cranberry juice in the WLR database, you can try it free
Alternatively, you could mix it up a bit and include cranberries in your lunchbox, or cooking.
Here's a couple of ideas:
- Cranberry and Cinnamon Bran Muffins - Nutritious and with a high fibre content, Muffins are great to make if you are inexperienced in the kitchen, as you can literally throw it all together. 175 calories per muffin.
- Turkey & Cranberry Sandwich... If you feel a bit naughty you can add your favourite choice of cheese ;) 260 calories (without the cheese).
There are a lot more ways of getting cranberries into your diet. Cranberry sauce can be included in sandwiches or dinners. Dried cranberries (just as nutritious as fresh) can be sprinkled on cereal or mixed with a few nuts for a healthy and filling snack. Take a free trial of WLR to get more cranberry and other healthy and delicious food ideas.
You can access the Weight Loss Resources food diary and food database free, for 24 hours - you'll learn a lot about healthy eating, start your free trial here.
- Duffey KJ et al. "Adult Cranberry Beverage Consumers Have Healthier Macronutrient Intakes and Measures of Body Composition Compared to Non-Consumers: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2008." Nutrients. 2013; 5.12:4938-49.http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/12/4938/htm
- Duffey KJ et al. "Adult consumers of cranberry juice cocktail have lower C-reactive protein levels compared with nonconsumers." Nutrition Research. 2015; 35.2: 91-174 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2014.11.005
- Collins, R et al. "Blood Pressure, Stroke, and Coronary Heart Disease. Part 2, Short-Term Reductions in Blood Pressure: Overview of Randomised Drug Trials in Their Epidemiological Context." Lancet. 1990; 335:827-38. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1969567
- Heller, M. "What Is the DASH Diet?" The DASH Diet Eating Plan. 2015. http://dashdiet.org/what_is_the_dash_diet.asp