Cranberry: The Benefits and Uses 101
What are the Health Benefits of Cranberry?
Cranberries might be most famous for their role alongside turkey at Thanksgiving, but few people know about the berry’s many health benefits. On top of their culinary history, cranberries have been used traditionally in medicine for thousands of years (cranberry’s extensive history has even led the Smithsonian to dub it America’s “Founding Fruit”). They come from a shrub native to North America, and typically grow throughout the east coast in places like Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. Recently, their increasing popularity in health and wellness has led to a significant cranberry industry.
These days there are plenty of ways to get the benefits of cranberries, from eating whole cranberries to taking cranberry supplements. Fresh cranberries, known for their intense tart taste, are rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C, which help protect the body against external stressors and support a healthy immune system.* The downside is that most cranberry products on the market (especially juices) tend to have lots of added sugar to combat the berry’s natural sour taste, so when choosing a cranberry product you should always read the label and check for extraneous ingredients.
What are cranberry supplements used for?
Today, cranberry also exists in supplement form, and several studies have shown that cranberry’s antioxidant properties can help support heart health, digestive health, and urinary tract health.
Cranberries contain high amounts of phytochemicals, natural pigments in plants responsible for their vibrant colors, which have been researched extensively for their positive health benefits. Cranberries also contain ursolic acid, which can help support a healthy response to inflammation in the body.
Cranberry supplements are most commonly used to help support urinary tract health. Research has shown that cranberries help prevent bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall, which often leads to urinary tract infections. Recently, some researchers have shown that the same chemical compounds in cranberry that help support urinary tract health may also support dental health by inhibiting the growth of the bacteria that contributes to cavities and gum disease.
Cranberry and skin health
Good skin care starts from the inside out, and what you put into your body has a big impact on the overall health and appearance of skin. Since skin is our largest organ, it’s important to make sure we’re eating the right nutrients to keep it healthy.
Cranberry is high in Vitamin C, which has powerful antioxidant properties that can help neutralize free radicals, which are unbalanced atoms in the body that can cause damage to cells and protein. If our bodies have an excess of free radicals floating around, it can lead to a phenomenon called oxidative stress, which can increase effects of aging on skin.
Cranberry has also been used topically to help support skin health. Because they’re acidic, cranberries can be mashed up and mixed with skin-friendly ingredients (like honey or oatmeal), to make a gentle natural exfoliant. Cranberries are also found in several products geared towards acne, and some research shows that the vitamin C in cranberries can help reduce the appearance of scars. Cranberry juice can be directly applied to red spots and acne with a cotton round much like a face toner. Cranberry can also be used as an astringent to help lighten pigmentation and smooth dull skin. Because cranberries have cleansing properties, they can help remove toxins that may negatively contribute to common skin problems like acne.
Cranberry and symptoms of PMS
Cranberry has long been a go-to for women struggling with PMS symptoms like bloating and cramping, and urinary tract infections related to menstruation. Cranberry contains potassium, which is one of the essential electrolytes our bodies need. Recent studies have shown that the potassium in cranberries may help reduce water retention, which contributes to bloating. Vitamin C’s anti-inflammatory properties can also help with cramping.
Cranberry and pregnant women
Urinary tract infections are one of the most common medical issues that pregnant women experience. During pregnancy especially, urinary tract infections should be taken care of immediately so they don’t lead to other serious complications like kidney infections. Research has shown that cranberry’s antimicrobial properties can help support urinary tract health during pregnancy, whether in supplement form or from drinking pure cranberry juice on a regular basis.
Does cranberry have benefits for men?
While urinary tract infections are more common in women, cranberry’s many benefits extend to men, too. Men tend to be more prone to complications from heart disease, including high blood pressure, and some research has shown that when used daily cranberry can help support healthy blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, cranberry can also contribute to heart health by supporting healthy cholesterol levels.
Does cranberry have side effects?
Cranberry is generally safe for most people, but like anything, it should be consumed in moderation. Because cranberries are acidic, drinking too much cranberry juice may upset your stomach, and taking more than the recommended dose of cranberry supplements can increase chances of developing kidney stones. Some research has shown that cranberry can interact with certain blood thinners, so you should always consult your doctor before incorporating anything new into your health routine.
Which cranberry supplement should I take?
Our cranberry supplement is made from cranberries grown in the United States and Canada, and is formulated with the highest quality ingredients available. 50 pounds of cranberries are used for every pound of our extract in order to make our cranberry as potent as possible. Plus, our cranberry supplement is vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free in order to accommodate as many diets as possible.