Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

About The Buzz: Cranberries Offer Protection Against Disease?

TheBUZZ Cranberries offer protection against disease?

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Cranberries are a rich source of nutrition; they are especially high in a group of unique phytochemicals called PACs (proanthocyanins). Although science is still determining how certain phytochemicals work, it has been shown that they offer various types of protection against disease and illness.1

WHAT WE KNOW

Fruits and vegetables are crammed full of important nutrients and very low in calories. All forms of fruits and vegetables count towards a healthy intake, and eating a variety is important for consuming different nutrients. Science is taking a closer look at individual foods and trying to uncover how the body responds to individual nutrients including phytochemicals.

HOW WE KNOW THIS

A 2014 study found PACs in cranberry juice to be bioavailable and operate as antioxidants in the body.2 In the small study comprised of ten (10) healthy men and women age 50-70 years, participants were given one dose of cranberry juice cocktail that contained 54% cranberry juice. The participants were asked to restrict dietary intake of other phytochemical-rich foods so that researchers could have an accurate measurement on antioxidant changes in the blood and urine. Researchers found PACs to be bioavailable to the body up to 24 hours after consumption, with a peak in the blood at 8-10 hours. This means that during digestion, phytochemicals were absorbed throughout the gut and entered the bloodstream where they became available for use in other parts of the body. It also suggests that daily consumption of PACs is important to allow the ongoing presence of these protective compounds.

Once PACs and other phytochemicals found in cranberries become available to the body, research suggests that they may have many roles that offer protection against disease and illness by:3

  • Inhibiting adhesion of bacteria to urinary tract walls reducing the occurrence of urinary tract infections (UTI’s).
  • Reducing inflammation throughout the body, possibly offering protection against periodontal disease, heart and cardiovascular disease.
  • Improving oxidative stress levels which, if left unchecked, can lead to cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, and other chronic diseases.
  • Possibly improving blood glucose control through better insulin sensitivity.4

WHY THIS MATTERS

Cranberries are a rich source for phytochemicals that may protect against chronic disease. Although more research is needed on the role of cranberries and how much we should eat, the phytochemicals found in them have been linked to many positive health outcomes making them a healthy addition to every diet.5

8 Ways to Add Cranberries to Your Day

  1. Try our Cran-licious smoothie for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a dessert.
  2. Mix cranberries into muffin, pancake, or quick bread batter.
  3. Toss dried cranberries into salad. Apple-Cranberry Salad Toss
  4. Make Turkey Cranberry Stew for dinner.
  5. Use cranberry sauce on sandwiches or serve alongside meat dishes for a fat free punch of flavor.
  6. Combine dried cranberries with nuts and whole-grain cereal for a quick snack.
  7. Enjoy a glass of 100% cranberry juice with breakfast.
  8. Stir dried cranberries into morning oatmeal.

 

1 “Functional Foods Fact Sheet: Antioxidants.” International Food Information Council Foundation. Accessed December 13, 2014. View Article

2 Diane McKay, et al. “Flavonoids and phenolic acids from cranberry juice are bioavailable and bioactive in healthy older adults.” Food Chemistry (2015) 168:233-240. Accessed December 8, 2014. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem2014.07.062. View Article

3 Jeffrey Blumberg, et al. “Cranberries and their bioactive constituents in human health.” Advances in Nutrition (2013) 4:618-632. Accessed January 2, 2015. doi:10.3945/an.113.004473. View Article

4 Fernando Anhê, et al. “A polyphenol-rich cranberry extract protects from diet-induced obesity, insulin resistance and intestinal inflammation in association with increased Akkermansia spp. population in the gut microbiota of mice.” Gut (2014) 0:1-12. Accessed December 8, 2014. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2014-307142. View Article

5 Jeffrey Blumberg, et al. “Cranberries and their bioactive constituents in human health.” Advances in Nutrition (2013) 4:618-632. Accessed December 8, 2014. doi:10.3945/an.113.004473. View Article

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