The various benefits of cranberry juice are difficult to overlook. Cranberries can be an integral part of your diet, with the nutrients necessary for healthy bodies. Women, in particular, should increase their cranberry juice intake to manage chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs).
While cranberry juice is good for you, there are caveats. For instance, some juice products contain too much sugar or interact with certain medications. Here’s everything you need to know about cranberries, their health benefits, and how to make cranberry juice at home.
Cranberry Juice Nutrition Facts
Cranberries have essential vitamins and minerals for disease prevention and a healthy body. Although raw cranberries are best for optimal nutrition absorption, drinking cranberry juice is also highly effective.
Unsweetened cranberry juice contains ample vitamins C and E, which are powerful phytochemicals that act as antioxidants and help protect the body from cell damage due to free radicals. Other important antioxidants found in pure cranberry juice include myricetin, peonidin, anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, and quercetin.
Unsweetened cranberry juice also meets much of the recommended daily values (DVs), including the following:1
- Vitamin C: 26% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 20% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 11% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 8% of the DV
Drinking one cup of unsweetened cranberry juice is 112 calories. Pure cranberry juice also has about 30.61 grams (g) of natural sugar. Dietary experts suggest sugars should account for less than 5% of total energy intake.2
Is Cranberry Juice Good For You? 6 Potential Health Benefits
This drink is most renowned for preventing UTIs, but several other health benefits of cranberry juice exist. The following section will explore six science-backed health advantages of drinking more cranberry juice.
- Prevent UTIs
Cranberry juice has long been the go-to beverage to prevent UTIs in vulnerable populations, particularly women. People with chronic UTIs have a greater urgency, experience pain or burning while urinating, and generally feel unwell. It is believed that the A-type proanthocyanidins found in cranberry juice prevent Escherichia coli (E.coli), a common cause of UTIs, from residing in the urinary tract or bladder.
According to one study, consuming cranberry juice had a 32% risk reduction of recurrent infections.3 Cranberry juice also had a 35% greater risk reduction than tablet supplements.
Research suggests UTIs correlate with a higher possibility of developing bladder and kidney cancers.4 About one in 400 women and one in 100 men develop bladder cancer in their lifetime.5
- Reduces Heart Disease
Cranberry juice may benefit your cardiovascular health due to its high polyphenolic compounds. Polyphenols decrease inflammation and cholesterol to improve blood vessel function and arterial stiffness related to high blood pressure or hypertension.6
Apple juice — another polyphenol-rich drink — also has antioxidative effects on cholesterol levels to reduce the risk of a heart attack. The vitamin K in both drinks helps lower blood pressure, further contributing to heart health.
- Help Digestive Health
Studies suggest cranberry juice may positively affect gut health. After six weeks of consuming cranberry juice, one study’s participants showed significant improvements in constipation.7 The study also found higher levels of Coriobacteriaceae and Bilophila, suggesting more gut microbial activity.
Cranberries have anti-inflammatory effects, much like celery. Celery juice is rich in luteolin and pyrroloquinoline quinone for decreased gut inflammation. However, strained celery juice lacks enough fiber to aid digestion. More research is necessary to determine whether cranberry juice has other digestive benefits.
- Support Sexual Health
Because cranberry juice diversifies the gut microbiome, it’s possible it also helps restore healthy vaginal bacteria to ward off UTIs in menopausal women.8 Prior research — albeit limited — has also indicated cranberries neutralize vaginal odors.
Cranberry juice is an excellent source of magnesium, which may reduce muscle cramps during menstruation.9 Women with severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and related conditions can receive muscular relief thanks to magnesium’s anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants.
- Improve Brain Health
Cranberry juice consumption may be the key to a healthy brain as you age. According to one study, eating freeze-dried cranberries in an amount equal to one cup of fresh cranberries for 12 weeks showed impressive improvements in memory and cognition in older adults.10
Nearly 55 million people have dementia worldwide, with about 10 million new cases annually.11 This study indicates cranberry juice could possibly protect individuals from cognitive decline.
- Boost Immunity
Research indicates that cranberry juice helps boost immunity and support a healthy immune system to fight possible infections.
Cranberries have polyphenols and proanthocyanidins, giving the fruit bright red pigmentation. Prior research shows polyphenols and proanthocyanidins help prevent cancer, including oral cancer.12 According to researchers, polyphenols in cranberry juice prevent biofilm formation for dental caries and periodontitis, an oral infection, and reduce bacteria on the gums.13
Which Is the Healthiest Cranberry Juice?
Always read the nutrition labels when shopping for cranberry juice at the supermarket. Often, commercial fruit juice products have added sugar and high fructose corn syrup, offsetting the potential benefits of pure cranberry juice. The added sugar could also increase the glycemic index of this beverage and influence blood sugar levels. Look for unsweetened juice and avoid cranberry juice cocktails, as the latter contains more sugar.
The healthiest cranberry products are homemade. When you make your own cranberry juice, you have better control over what goes into your beverage. You can make a batch of pure cranberry juice and store it in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Although there isn’t a recommended dosage for cranberry juice, about 41 milligrams of frozen or raw cranberries, approximately one-third of a cup, has a better effect on UTI prevention.14 However, drinking too much juice can lead to an upset stomach. Pay attention to how your body reacts to the juice and start consuming less if it affects you negatively.
A Cranberry Juice Recipe to Reap All the Benefits of It
Homemade cranberry juice is easy to whip up in about 30 minutes. This recipe calls for three cups of frozen or fresh cranberries and three cups of water.15 You can sweeten your cranberry drink with maple syrup or honey, which are natural alternatives to sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Bring the water and cranberries to a boil in a large pot and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. The cranberries should be soft. Pour the mixture into a sieve and squeeze the liquid out with a spoon or your hand, but only if it has cooled.
Stir in your sweetener of choice. You can also boost the vitamin C content in cranberry juice by adding a couple of tablespoons of orange juice. By making your beverage at home, you can experience all the cranberry juice benefits without risking excess sugar or questionable additives.
Does Cranberry Juice Have Any Side Effects?
Because commercial cranberry juice usually has a lot of sugar, the side effects of cranberry juice could include glucose spikes when consumed in large quantities. Drinking too much may also cause weight gain or diarrhea.
Cranberries are high in oxalates, which are found in kidney stones.16 Individuals prone to kidney stones should steer clear of cranberry juice or supplement it only occasionally.
People taking certain medications should avoid drinking cranberry juice. Miradon, coumadin, and dicumarol have moderate effects from cranberry interactions.17 Lipitor and cranberries also have negative interactions, slowing the body’s ability to break down atorvastatin.
Recent research displays conflicting results on the interaction between cranberry juice and warfarin, one of the most popular blood thinners.18 Some studies say it has no effect, while others say the amount of vitamin K could increase the thinning effect of warfarin. Always check with your doctor before mixing cranberry juice with current medications. Likewise, consume cranberry juice in moderation to reduce side effects.
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Topics discussed in this article:
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- Guideline: Sugars Intake for Adults and Children. (2015). Nih.gov; World Health Organization. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK285538/
- Xia, J., et al. (2021). Consumption of cranberry as adjuvant therapy for urinary tract infections in susceptible populations: A systematic review and meta-analysis with trial sequential analysis. PLOS ONE, 16(9), e0256992. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0256992
- Huang, C.-H., et al (2019). Risk of Cancer after Lower Urinary Tract Infection: A Population-Based Cohort Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16030390
- What are the Best Foods for Bladder Health? | Cxbladder. (n.d.). Cxbladder.com. Retrieved July 10, 2023, from https://cxbladder.com/us/blog/what-are-the-best-foods-for-bladder-health/
- Heiss, C., et al (2022). Daily consumption of cranberry improves endothelial function in healthy adults: a double blind randomized controlled trial. Food & Function. https://doi.org/10.1039/D2FO00080F
- Chicas, M. C., Talcott, S., Talcott, S., & Sirven, M. (2022). Effect of Cranberry Juice Supplementation on the Gut Microbiome and Inflammatory Markers: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study in Overweight Individuals. Current Developments in Nutrition, 6(Supplement_1), 272–272. https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzac053.013
- Al Othaim, A., Marasini, D., & Carbonero, F. (2021). Impact of cranberry juice consumption on gut and vaginal microbiota in postmenopausal women. Food Frontiers. https://doi.org/10.1002/fft2.76
- Porri, D., Biesalski, et al (2021). Effect of magnesium supplementation on women’s health and well-being. NFS Journal, 23, 30–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nfs.2021.03.003
- Flanagan, E., et al. (2022). Chronic Consumption of Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) for 12 Weeks Improves Episodic Memory and Regional Brain Perfusion in Healthy Older Adults: A Randomised, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Groups Feasibility Study. Frontiers in Nutrition, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2022.849902
- World Health Organization. (2023, March 15). Dementia. Www.who.int. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia#:~:text=Key%20facts
- Proanthocyanidins - Health Encyclopedia - University of Rochester Medical Center. (n.d.). Www.urmc.rochester.edu. Retrieved July 10, 2023, from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=proanthocyanidins.
- Chen, H., et al (2022). Procyanidins and Their Therapeutic Potential against Oral Diseases. 27(9), 2932–2932. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27092932
- Babar, A., et al (2021). High dose versus low dose standardized cranberry proanthocyanidin extract for the prevention of recurrent urinary tract infection in healthy women: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. BMC Urology, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12894-021-00811-w
- Alphafoodie, S. @. (2021, December 3). How to Make Cranberry Juice (Stovetop | Sugar Free Optional). Alphafoodie. https://www.alphafoodie.com/how-to-make-cranberry-juice/
- Madden, E., et al (2021). Safety of Cranberry: Evaluation of Evidence of Kidney Stone Formation and Botanical Drug-Interactions. Planta Medica, 87(10/11), 803–817. https://doi.org/10.1055/a-1497-6241
- Cranberry Interactions [Review of Cranberry Interactions]. Drugs.com. Retrieved July 10, 2023, from https://www.drugs.com/drug-interactions/cranberry.html
- Ware, Megan, RDN, L.D. (2023, February 9). What to know about cranberries. MedicalNewsToday. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269142.