Cranberries: Top 6 Benefits of These Antioxidant Superfruits

Did you know that cranberries contain one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any fruit?

Cranberries - Dr. Axe

By Dr. Josh Axe

Did you know that cranberries contain one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any fruit? That’s right — these incredible berries are loaded with health-promoting antioxidants, which help protect cells against free radical damage and aid in the prevention of chronic disease. (1) Cranberries should be a staple on every shopping list for many reasons, including their ability to reduce body-wide inflammation, boost immunity and more.

Ready to learn more about this powerful superfruit and how it can impact your health? Here’s what you need to know the cranberry.

Top 6 Benefits of Cranberries

  1. Prevent and Treat Urinary Tract Infections
  2. Decrease Inflammation
  3. May Help Prevent Certain Cancers
  4. Improve Immune Function
  5. Benefit the Digestive Tract
  6. Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

1. Prevent and Treat Urinary Tract Infections

One of the most well-known cranberry benefits is its ability to act as a home remedy for urinary tract infections (UTIs). UTIs are significantly more common in women than men due to the location of the urethra. They can affect any part of the urinary tract but occur most often in the bladder. (2)

Each year, it’s estimated that urinary tract infections account for about 7 million office visits in the U.S. alone. (3) The infection produces symptoms of frequent, urgent or painful urination, which is sometimes accompanied by abdominal pain or blood in the urine. Most UTIs are caused by a harmful bacteria called Escherichia coli (or E. coli).

Cranberry fruit is thought to contain specific compounds that prevent bacteria from attaching to the inner surface of the urinary tract or bladder. (4) For this reason, many health professionals recommend drinking one to two glasses of 100 percent pure, unsweetened or lightly sweetened cranberry juice a day to aid in the prevention of urinary tract infections. Studies offer evidence that women who drink cranberry juice frequently may suffer fewer symptomatic urinary tract infections. (56)

Cranberry juice, capsules and tablets are good alternatives to antibiotics, which come with a slew of adverse side effects like yeast infections, digestive issues and antibiotic resistance. When reviewers compared cranberry juice, capsules or tablets with a placebo or water for the prevention of UTIs in a variety of populations, results showed that over a 12-month period, cranberry products reduced the overall incidence of UTIs by 35 percent. They also cut the annual rate of new infections by 39 percent in women with recurring UTIs. (7)

2. Decrease Inflammation

Inflammation is at the root of many chronic conditions, including heart disease, autoimmune disease, cancer, diabetes and more. Fortunately, anti-inflammatory foods like cranberries can help naturally combat inflammation thanks to their rich content of antioxidants.

Antioxidants are compounds found in foods with vibrant colors, such as the dark red color of cranberries or the rich blue/purple color of blueberries. All berries help fight free radicals thanks to their antioxidant content, but cranberries are one of the top sources.

Inflammation can occur when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive, working to rid the body of toxins that may come from an unhealthy diet, pollution or other factors. A diet low in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory foods results in an abundance of free radicals within the body. Free radicals are a type of compound that can build up over time, causing inflammation and oxidative damage to cells. Plus, they up the risk of chronic disease. Loading up on antioxidant-rich foods like cranberries is an easy way to fight the effects of free radicals and relieve inflammation.

3. May Help Prevent Certain Cancers

Research shows that cranberries contain cancer-fighting substances that may be helpful in preventing the growth of breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer cells. In fact, both human and animal studies show that cranberries may help slow tumor progression and block the growth of cancer cells. (89) Coupled with their potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, cranberries may help lower the risk of some of the most common types of cancers. That’s why they are considered cancer-fighting foods.