In addition to its great taste, cranberry juice has numerous health benefits many of us may not be aware of. While the majority of us know to associate cranberry juice to curing a urinary tract infection (UTI), cranberry juice has also been said to prevent many other health implications including kidney stones, periodontal disease and even some cancers.
In addition to containing many antioxidants, cranberry juice contains vitamin C, vitamin K, hippuric acid and quinic acid. Vitamin C is important in the production of connective tissues and bones, while quinic acid has been said to prevent the development of kidney stones. The antioxidants present will bind free radicals in the body which can cause cell damage and may lead to cancer. Vitamin K is involved in the production of prothrombin, a necessity for blood clotting, and may depress the frequency of nosebleeds. Furthermore, the presence of acids in the beverage also prevents growth of the bacterium Heliobactor pylori, which has been linked to some stomach cancers. The acids also suppress the growth of bacteria in your mouth which can fight bad breath. The growth of some cancer cells, including breast cancer cells, is prevented by the proanthocyanidins also found in cranberry juice.
Polyphenols found in cranberry juice will also reduce the amount of LDL, or bad cholesterol, in the blood while increasing the amount of HDL, good cholesterols.
The notorious UTI is, more often than not, caused by the equally notorious Escherichia coli.
E. coli is part of our normal microflora and is present in many parts of our body including our lower intestines. In the unfortunate event that E.coli get into the urinary tract, it has the ability to form a biofilm — an array of layered cells that permits the cells to grow into a resistant community — at which point an antibiotic must be taken. Cranberry juice plays a role in preventing the fimbriae — hair-like adhesion appendages — from adhering to the sides of the ureter, which in turn inhibits the formation of a biofilm. In this case, the bacteria will simply exit the body with the urine and their presence will remain unnoticed. In addition to inhibiting the formation of fimbriae, there is evidence to suggest that the same mode of action inhibits the growth of a Haemophilus influenzae biofilm, responsible for some ear infections and respiratory tract infections.
Previously, it was thought that the cranberry juice, due to its acidity, acidified the urine and killed the cells; however, recent studies on this topic have disproven this misconception.
Cranberry juice can also be prescribed to friends for oral protection, as plaque on the teeth is a biofilm we all are familiar with. Fighting bad breath will now be an easier task for all of us.
Despite the fact that cranberry juice has a good reputation for being a “superdrug,” many details on its effectively are still being discovered. From fighting bad breath to preventing cancer, cranberry juice can become our hero disguised as a tasty juice or in pill form. Cranberry juice should, however, be regarded as a prevention step rather a cure.