You may associate cranberries with the holidays, but there are good reasons to consume them year-round, either frozen, dried or in juice form. Here are six cranberry benefits, including research about how these gems may help counter the global threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
1. Cranberries may curb antibiotic resistance.
In a 2019 study from McGill University in Canada, researchers selected bacteria responsible for urinary tract infections, pneumonia and gastroenteritis. When bacteria are treated with an antibiotic, they typically become resistant to its effects. But, in this experiment, scientists found that the addition of cranberry extract prevented resistance from developing. The extract made the bacterial cell wall more permeable to the antibiotic, and it caused the bacteria to have a tougher time pumping out the antibiotic. The finding is significant because the overuse of antibiotics, primarily in animal agriculture, has led to infections that are more difficult to treat in humans.
2. Cranberries are anti-inflammatory and packed with antioxidants.
Like other berries, cranberries are antioxidant powerhouses. In fact, when it comes to fruit, they rank just under blueberries (often called the king of antioxidants) in antioxidant potency. Cranberries also provide anti-inflammatory compounds. Research shows that people who consume cranberries have lower levels of C-reactive protein, a blood marker of inflammation, which is a known trigger of premature aging, chronic illness and cognitive decline.
3. Cranberries boost circulation.
Cranberries have been shown to help improve artery flexibility. This means enhanced circulation and blood flow, which takes pressure off the heart and can help lower blood pressure. Better circulation can also boost energy and cognitive function.
4. Cranberries offer disease protection.
There’s evidence that cranberry juice protects heart health by reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides (blood fats) and insulin resistance. What’s more, certain compounds in cranberries have been shown to slow the growth of tumors, including cancer cells of the breast, colon, lung and prostate.
5. Cranberries can support gut health.
Research shows that consuming cranberries can create a positive shift in the beneficial gut bacteria tied to immunity, mood and digestive health. The fiber in whole or dried cranberries also helps to prevent constipation and support digestive health.
6. Cranberries help with immunity.
The vitamin C in cranberries supports immunity and is required to make collagen, so it plays a key role in skin and joint health and overall healing. You’ve probably also heard that cranberries may help prevent urinary tract infections. That’s true, for some people. Cranberries help by interfering with the ability of bacteria to stick to the walls of the urinary tract. This same type of natural defense also happens in the stomach to prevent ulcers and in the mouth to fight gum disease.
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