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This sea­sonal fruit is for more than just hol­i­day mer­ry­mak­ing

Better Nutrition - - CONTENTS - BY VERA TWEED

5 Amaz­ing Cran­berry Ben­e­fits From re­duc­ing risk of heart dis­ease to pro­tect­ing teeth and gums, th­ese tiny berries pack a se­ri­ous health punch.

Cran­berry ex­tracts and juices have been proven to re­duce uri­nary tract in­fec­tions among thou­sands of peo­ple, and the Amer­i­can Uro­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion rec­om­mends them as the fi rst step in re­duc­ing re­cur­ring UTIs. But the bright red berry off ers even more.

“The bioac­tives in cran­berry juice, dried cran­ber­ries, and a va­ri­ety of other cran­berry sources have been shown to pro­mote an ar­ray of benefi cial health eff ects,” says Jeff rey Blum­berg, PhD, of the Jean Mayer USDA Hu­man Nutri­tion Re­search Cen­ter on Ag­ing at Tufts Uni­ver­sity in Bos­ton. “I be­lieve we’ve only scratched the sur­face when it comes to iden­ti­fy­ing the po­ten­tial power of the cran­berry.”

Stud­ies have found that cran­berry juice can re­duce risk for heart dis­ease, stroke, and di­a­betes; erad­i­cate harm­ful gut bugs; en­hance the health of teeth and gums; help pro­tect against can­cer; and re­duce an­tibi­otic overuse and re­sis­tance.

1. Re­duc­ing Risk for Heart Dis­ease, Stroke, and Di­a­betes

Th­ese dis­eases share un­der­ly­ing risk fac­tors: un­healthy lev­els of blood pres­sure, blood su­gar, harm­ful choles­terol, triglyc­erides, and C- re­ac­tive pro­tein, a

marker of infl am­ma­tion. Re­searchers at the United States Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture tested the eff ects of a low- calo­rie cran­berry juice and found that it im­proved all th­ese mark­ers.

In a group of 56 men and women with an av­er­age age of 50, half drank an 8- ounce glass of cran­berry juice twice daily, and the other half drank a placebo bev­er­age. Af­ter 8 weeks, all the health mark­ers im­proved in those drink­ing cran­berry juice. Other stud­ies have found sim­i­lar re­sults.

2. Erad­i­cat­ing Harm­ful Gut Bugs

Cell and an­i­mal stud­ies show that cran­berry pre­vents harm­ful bac­te­ria from at­tach­ing to the walls of the stom­ach and in­testines, re­duc­ing the odds of in­fec­tion and mak­ing it eas­ier for the bugs to be elim­i­nated. Hu­man stud­ies have found that cran­berry juice can help to re­duce or elim­i­nate in­fec­tion with H. py­lori, which can lead to pep­tic ul­cers, gas­tri­tis, or stom­ach infl am­ma­tion.

3. Pro­tect­ing Teeth and Gums

Cran­berry pre­vents harm­ful bac­te­ria in the mouth from stick­ing to teeth and gums. Re­searchers in In­dia for­mu­lated a spe­cial cran­berry mouth­wash for use in a study and found that it was as eff ec­tive in fi ght­ing bac­te­ria as a strong an­tibac­te­rial mouth­wash. But so far, this type of cran­berry mouth­wash has not been de­vel­oped as a con­sumer prod­uct, and rins­ing your mouth with cran­berry juice isn’t rec­om­mended be­cause its acid­ity can dam­age tooth enamel.

4. Pre­vent­ing Can­cer

Cell and an­i­mal stud­ies have found that cran­berry ex­tracts and pow­ders re­duce infl am­ma­tion and can help to pre­vent or re­duce growth of var­i­ous types of can­cers, in­clud­ing can­cers of the breast, cervix, ovary, colon, esoph­a­gus, prostate, brain, liver, lung, mouth, rec­tum, and stom­ach, as well as leukemia, lym­phoma, and melanoma.

5. Re­duc­ing UTIs and An­tibi­otic Re­sis­tance

It’s es­ti­mated that at least 40 per­cent of women and 12 per­cent of men will ex­pe­ri­ence a UTI at least once in their lives. When an­tibi­otics are rou­tinely used to treat th­ese in­fec­tion, an­tibi­otic re­sis­tance be­comes a very real dan­ger. Cur­rently, at least 2 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are in­fected with an­tibi­otic- re­sis­tant bac­te­ria, which means that even mi­nor in­fec­tions can lead to com­pli­ca­tions.

Us­ing cran­berry ex­tracts or juices to pre­vent and treat UTIs can help to re­duce an­tibi­otic re­sis­tance. An­gelo Luis, PhD, one of a group of re­searchers who re­viewed cran­berry re­search cov­er­ing nearly 5,000 peo­ple, puts it this way: “Our in­ves­ti­ga­tion sup­ports that cran­berry prod­ucts can be a pow­er­ful tool to fi ght off fre­quent UTIs.”

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