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Just a handful of sliced cranberries provides the body with wonderful nourishment. Cranberries are high in proanthocyanidins (PACs), helpful compounds with antibacterial properties. Since they inhibit certain kinds of bacteria, cranberries may be used as a treatment for urinary tract infections, gum disease, and stomach ulcers. Research also indicates that the antioxidants and phytonutrients found in cranberries can help protect against heart disease and other chronic conditions. Dried sliced cranberries are also a good source of dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamins A & C.

Cranberries are often a popular part of Thanksgiving celebrations in the form of cranberry sauce, cranberry drinks and dried cranberries added to stuffing, casseroles or dessert.

Urinary Tract Infections
The cranberry is perhaps best known for its role in preventing UTIs, especially for those with recurrent infections. The high level of proanthocyanidins (PACs) in cranberries helps reduce the adhesion of certain bacteria to the urinary tract walls, in turn fighting off infections.

A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in February 2016 reported that while cranberry capsules have been shown to help urinary tract infections, cranberry juice is far less effective. The reason for this is that it takes an extremely large concentration of cranberry to prevent bacterial adhesion. This amount of concentration is not found in the juices we drink

Cardiovascular Disease
Some evidence suggests that the polyphenols in cranberries may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by preventing platelet build-up and reducing blood pressure via anti-inflammatory mechanisms.

Research has shown that cranberries are beneficial in slowing tumor progression and have shown positive effects against prostate, liver, breast, ovarian, and colon cancers.

The same proanthocyanidins in cranberries that help prevent UTIs may also benefit oral health by preventing bacteria from binding to teeth, according to Researchers at the Center for Oral Biology and Eastman Department of Dentistry at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Cranberries may also be beneficial in preventing gum disease.

Potential precautions
You may want to steer clear of a high intake of cranberries if you take the blood-thinning drug warfarin, also known as coumadin. There has been conflicting evidence on the potential for cranberries to enhance the drug’s effect on the body. Several cases of increased bleeding due to suspected interactions with cranberry juice and warfarin have been reported.

Cranberry products may increase urine oxalate excretion, which could promote the formation of kidney stones.5 Individuals with a history of kidney stones should talk to their healthcare provider before including any forms of cranberries in their diet.

Written by Megan Ware RDN LD

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