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Cranberries are evergreen dwarf shrubs that grow in the acidic bogs in the cooler regions of the Northern hemisphere. These shrubs bear small berries that are initially white but turn red once they become ripe. These berries are edible and are used to make cranberry juice which is bitter in its pure form. However, most of the commercially available varieties of cranberry juice are sweetened by adding artificial flavors. Besides being tasty and refreshing, there are a number of cranberry juice benefits although purer the juice the greater is its health benefits.
Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice is effective against the following health problems:
Urinary Tract Infection: One of the important cranberry juice health benefits is its ability to combat urinary tract infections. The high levels of oligomeric proanthocyanidins minerals in cranberry juice help it to flush out the harmful E.coli bacteria from the urinary tract that can cause a number of painful infections. These minerals are powerful antioxidants. The anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and anti-microbial properties add to the benefits of drinking cranberry juice. The acids in the juice make the urine acidic that does not allow bacteria to stick to the walls of the bladder and cause infection.
Stomach Ulcers and Cancer: Besides fighting the E.coli bacteria, cranberry juice has the ability to destroy the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. This strain of bacteria causes painful stomach ulcers by damaging the protective mucous coating of the stomach. In severe cases of infection, this may lead to stomach cancer.
Respiratory Infection: Studies have shown that cranberry juice helps to fight certain strains of the Haemophilus Influenzae bacteria which is a type of bacteria found in the nose and throat of most of the healthy children and adults. This bacteria is responsible for causing painful respiratory and ear infections in children. The juice inhibits the bacteria from infecting the cells by not allowing their hair like structure (called pili) to attach themselves to the cell surface.
Cardiovascular Diseases: The polyphenols present in cranberry juice improves the health of the cardiovascular system. These chemicals are believed to increase the levels of good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol levels in blood thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Oral Health: Cranberry juice is very effective in reducing harmful bacteria in the mouth. Drinking a single glass of this juice is known to inhibit bacterial growth in gums, prevent plaque formation and improve oral hygiene.
- The high amounts of acids and other useful components in cranberry juice, help it in breaking down and preventing the formation of kidney stones.
- The phytochemicals present in cranberry juice slows the aging process and breaks down breast cancer cells
- Cranberry juice is rich in organic acids. These acids emulsify the fat deposits in our body and aids in weight loss. Hence for those who want to shed those extra kilos, this is another reason to drink this juice.
- As cranberry juice is a good source of calcium, it strengthens teeth and bones and prevents osteoporosis.
- Cranberry juice is known to decrease the problem of cellulite and improve overall skin health.
The numerous cranberry health benefits may tempt one to drink a lot of this juice. However, an overdose of cranberry juice can cause obesity due to high sugar content, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, gastrointestinal problems, and tooth cavities. Two glasses for adults and one glass children in a day is the dosage that is recommended by most health experts.
If you want to make the most of the cranberry juice benefits buy organic cranberry juice available in most health or natural food stores. You could also make one at home and mix it with some other pure fruit juice to dilute its strong taste. The health benefits are almost completely lost if one drinks the sugary versions of this juice that are most commonly available in stores.