In this brief article we will answer the question,” Are cranberries a fruit?” We will explain what cranberries are and look at their nutritional profile. We will discuss the health benefits of cranberries and some potential side effects of overconsuming cranberries.
Are cranberries a fruit?
Yes, cranberries are actually fruits and are related to blueberries and wintergreen. Cranberries are small, hard and round berries with a deep red color that are grown on vines mostly in the US and Southern Canada.
They usually have a very sharp and sour taste and are best enjoyed juiced or dry although some people do consume them raw.
What is the nutritional value of cranberries?
A serving of 80 grams of fresh cranberries can typically provide:
- Calories 12kcal / 52kj
- Protein 0.3g
- Total fat 0.1g
- Carbs 2.7g
- Sugars 2.7g
- Dietary fiber 3.2g
- Potassium 76mg
- Vitamin C10 mg
What are the health benefits of cranberries?
They can help prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Cranberries are best known for their ability to prevent Urinary tract infections. This is because they contain compounds called proanthocyanidins.
Proanthocyanidins are a class of compounds that have antibacterial properties and can help prevent E.coli from attaching in the inner surface of the bladder and resulting in urinary tract infection.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that drinking cranberry juice assists in the prevention of UTI and its recurrence but they do not treat the infection once you have it. For people that would wish to drink cranberry juice for its UTI benefits it is best to take an unsweetened 100 percent juice.
They can support heart health
Numerous studies have shown that regular taking of cranberry juice as well as its extract can be good for heart health because it limits the no. of key factors for development of heart disease.
Cranberry juice or its extract can lead to the improvement of cholesterol balance, can lower blood pressure and reduce homocysteine. Homocysteine is a compound that leads to damage of the lining of the blood vessels.
There is also some evidence, although not conclusive, that shows cranberries can potentially raise the levels of High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) ‘good cholesterol’ and help in lowering the levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) bad cholesterol.
They can help protect against gastric ulcer and stomach cancer
Cranberries have a compound that lowers the risk of gastric ulcers and stomach cancer which is usually caused by Helicobacter pylori. Consumption of cranberry can assist in decreasing the growth of the bacteria and by doing that also reducing the risk of developing stomach cancer.
The a-type proanthocyanidins in cranberries are very potent antioxidants which are being studied for their anticancer properties.
They are good for oral hygiene
Cranberries are as well good for keeping the mouth healthy. They do this by preventing any harmful acids from forming in the mouth. They usually reduce the amount of acid that is produced and stop it from sticking to the teeth.
Studies have also been undertaken to check if the a-type proanthocyanidins are responsible for preventing bacteria from forming in the mouth. The control of acid formation in the mouth assists in preventing gum disease, cavities, tooth decay and even oral cancer.
They can reduce inflammation
Cranberries as well possess anti-inflammatory effects because they contain high levels of potent antioxidants such as anthocyanins and flavanols.
Antioxidants are effective in reducing the risk of certain diseases by reducing the inflammation in the bodies. Consumption of a diet rich in antioxidants such as in fruits and veggies is effective in lowering inflammation.
They can help protect against certain cancers
Cranberries are an excellent source of ursolic acid. Ursolic acid is a plant compound of interest because of its many potential benefits. It is believed to have many effects such as being an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and anti-apoptotic effects.
What are some potential risks of excessive consumption of cranberries?
Cranberries are largely safe when consumed in moderation but overconsuming can have some side effects. Over Consuming cranberries can result in stomach upset and diarrhea. It can as well increase the risk of development of kidney stones in people that are predisposed.
In this brief article we have answered the question,” Are cranberries a fruit?” We have explained what cranberries are and looked at their nutritional profile. We have discussed the health benefits of cranberries and some potential side effects of overconsuming cranberries.