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Healthier Cranberry Juice

September 25, 2012 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

Last week a slew of studies were presented at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions. Among them, was a trial funded by Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. – a leading manufacturer of cranberry juice. The details of the study reveal that the daily consumption of “low calorie” cranberry juice moderately reduces blood pressure (by about 3 mmHg diastolic and systolic) as compared to a placebo beverage. But, before you go out to the market to stock up on low-cal cranberry “cocktails”, consider the details that weren’t included in the mainstream press converge.

Reduced calorie cranberry juice is typically made by combining cranberry concentrate or juice with water and artificial sweeteners. The resulting product is undeniably lower in energy and pretty tasty. However, it also lacks the nutrients and phytochemicals which make cranberries a bonafide health food. Still, these dietetic drinks are heavily marketed to children, diabetics and those hoping to lose weight. Some nutritionists support their use because they’re lower in calories than sugar sweetened or undiluted juice. Manufacturers include them in their product lines because they boast a more robust profit margin – artificial sweeteners and water are cheaper than actual fruit juice.

The good reputation of cranberries has grown over the past several years. A handful of studies, including some using low calorie cranberry juice, have determined that this ruby red refresher is capable of supporting cardiovascular health in a variety of ways. Specifically, recent studies reveal that daily consumption of cranberry juice can: a) decrease cholesterol oxidation and lipid peroxidation while elevating overall antioxidant capacity; b) encourage healthier circulation by reducing “carotid femoral pulse wave velocity – a clinically relevant measure of arterial stiffness”; c) raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol. What’s more, a 2007 review carried out by the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging points out that cranberries are a rich source of naturally occurring chemicals (anthocyanins, ellagic acid, flavonols, etc.) which are known to lower blood pressure and systemic inflammation.

If you’re concerned about cardiovascular health, there are a few details that bear discussion prior to adopting a regular cranberry juice routine. In the past, there were concerns expressed about potential interactions between cranberry juice and “blood thinning” medications such as Coumadin (warfarin). More recent investigations have ruled this out as a contraindication. In terms of which cranberries juice to use – I would suggest making your own homemade, low calorie cranberry juice instead of buying the premixed variety. The recipe I recommend is very simple and can be adjusted based on taste preferences. In our home, I generally combine equal parts 100% pure cranberry juice and purified water. I add several drops of liquid stevia to the mixture. The end result is a more natural product that provides higher levels of the therapeutic components found in fresh cranberries. I addition, based on personal blood sugar testing, this stevia-sweetened cranberry drink has virtually no impact on my fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels.

Click on the following links to learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column:

Study 1 - Low Calorie Cranberry Juice Lowers Blood Pressure in Healthy Adults (link)

Study 2 - Low-calorie Cranberry Juice Decreases Lipid Oxidation and Increases(link)

Study 3 - Plasma Matrix Metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 Levels Are Reduced (link)

Study 4 - Favorable Impact of Low-Calorie Cranberry Juice Consumption on (link)

Study 5 - Changes in Plasma Antioxidant Capacity and Oxidized Low-Density(link)

Study 6 – Effects of Cranberry Juice Consumption on Vascular Function (link)

Study 7 – Cranberries (Vaccinium Macrocarpon) and Cardiovascular Disease Risk (link)

Study 8 - Evidences of the Cardioprotective Potential of Fruits: The Case of (link)

Study 9 - Possible Interaction Between Warfarin and Cranberry Juice (link)

Study 10 - Effect of High-Dose Cranberry Juice on the Pharmacodynamics of (link)

Cranberry Juice May Improve Blood Pressure via Increased Nitric Oxide Levels

Source: J Am Coll Nutr. 2009 Dec;28(6):694-701. (link)

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2 Comments & Updates to “Healthier Cranberry Juice”

  1. JP Says:

    Update: Cranberries may reduce the build up of harmful oral bacteria …

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4319342/

    Contemp Clin Dent. 2015 Jan-Mar;6(1):35-9.

    Comparative assessment of Cranberry and Chlorhexidine mouthwash on streptococcal colonization among dental students: A randomized parallel clinical trial.

    BACKGROUND: Chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash has earned an eponym of the gold standard against oral infections, but with certain limitations. There is no effective alternative to Chlorhexidine. Cranberry is known to inhibit bacterial adhesion in various systemic infections and acts as a strong antioxidant. However, it is less explored for its dental use. Hence, there is a need to evaluate its effect against oral infections.

    AIM: The aim was to compare the efficacy of 0.2% Chlorhexidine mouthwash with 0.6% Cranberry mouthwash on Streptococcus mutans.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: This was a double-blind, randomized parallel group clinical trial. Total sample of 50 subjects, aged 18-20 years, were randomly divided into two groups, Group A (25) and Group B (25) were given 10 mL of Chlorhexidine mouthwash and Cranberry mouthwash twice daily, respectively, for 14 days each. The plaque samples, which were taken from the subjects on 1(st) day and 14(th) day, were inoculated on blood agar plates and incubated at 37°C for 24-48 h. Number of streptococcal colony forming units were calculated using digital colony counter. The data were subjected to paired t-test and unpaired t-test at a 5% significance level.

    RESULTS: (1) Chlorhexidine mouthwash showed 69% reduction whereas Cranberry mouthwash showed 68% reduction in S. mutans count. (2) No significant difference was seen between Chlorhexidine and Cranberry mouthwash on streptococci.

    CONCLUSION: Cranberry mouthwash is equally effective as Chlorhexidine mouthwash with beneficial local and systemic effect. Hence, it can be used effectively as an alternative to Chlorhexidine mouthwash.

    Be well!

    JP

  2. JP Says:

    Update: Cranberry juice linked to lower systemic inflammation …

    http://www.nrjournal.com/article/S0271-5317%2814%2900265-6/abstract

    Nutr Res. 2015 Feb;35(2):118-26.

    Adult consumers of cranberry juice cocktail have lower C-reactive protein levels compared with nonconsumers.

    Flavonoids are important bioactive plant constituents found in abundance in berries, including cranberries. Cranberry beverages have been shown to beneficially impact urinary and cardiovascular health in clinical and observational studies, but their association with anthropometric outcomes is unknown. We examined the association between cranberry juice cocktail (CJC) consumption with flavonoid intake, and cardiometabolic and anthropometric outcomes among adults in the US data for adults (≥19 years, n = 10334) were drawn from cross-sectional National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey combined 2005-2008 survey. We hypothesized that CJC consumers will have lower anthropometric measures and healthier cardiometabolic profiles, including lower cholesterol and C-reactive protein (CRP). A CJC consumer (n = 330) was defined as anyone consuming CJC for 2 nonconsecutive 24-hour dietary recalls. We used multivariate linear regression models to examine differences in anthropometric and cardiometabolic outcomes comparing CJC consumers to nonconsumers controlling for important confounders. Consumers drank an average 404 mL (14 fl oz) of CJC for 2 days and did not have higher total energy intakes compared with nonconsumers (mean [SD], 2259 [79] vs 2112 [24], respectively). In fully adjusted models, adult CJC consumers had significantly lower levels of CRP (mean [SD], -0.13 [0.05]; P = .015), results that were strengthened after further adjustment for body mass index (mean [SD], -0.98 [0.04]; P = .027). Trends toward lower weights and lower levels of cholesterol did not reach statistical significance. Intake of cranberry polyphenols may play a role in promoting anti-inflammatory markers among CJC consumers, specifically lowering CRP levels.

    Be well!

    JP

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