Cranberries are very nutritious, and drinking cranberry juice is one way to benefit from these nutrients. Cranberry juice is not universally healthy, however, and care should be taken to check the label in order to pick the right type of juice.
What Is Cranberry Juice?
Cranberry juice is liquid crushed from cranberries, which are acidic berries that grow on small shrubs or vines. Pure cranberry juice is very tart and so is often diluted with other types of juice, such as orange or apple. Cranberry juice might also be diluted with water and sweeteners in order to soften its acidity. In this case, it might be called cranberry juice cocktail, or a juice drink or nectar. Check the label in order to determine the percentage of cranberry juice included in the drink. While some dilution can make it easier to drink more cranberry juice for those who don't like tart flavors, too much dilution would defeat the purpose by negating health benefits and may add a lot of sugar to the diet.
Cranberry juice is often used in alcoholic drinks and cocktails, particularly mixed with vodka. The Cosmopolitan, for example, is made from cranberry juice. The juice may also be used to make wine.
The Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice is well known as a natural treatment for bladder and urinary tract infections. Not only does cranberry juice kill the bacteria that cause the infections directly, it also makes the internal environment of the bladder more acidic. This can help to prevent bacterial infections before they start by making the bladder a hostile environment for bacteria.
Cranberries are a source of vitamin C, as well as manganese and other nutrients. Cranberries are also a source of different kinds of antioxidants, including polyphenols, which may help to prevent cancer and heart disease, as well as boost the immune system. Cranberry juice also has components that can fight against tooth decay, reversing the formation of plaque on teeth by reducing the amounts of the bacteria which cause plaque.
Cautions about Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice is often diluted with sugar and water, to lower the cost of producing it and sweeten the taste. Adding too much sugar to your diet can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance. Cranberry juice has also been speculated to cause kidney stones, as it contains oxalate. However, some studies have shown that drinking the juice may actually lower the risk of kidney stones.
Cranberry juice is very acidic, and while it can have some benefits for teeth by reducing plaque formation, it may also eventually strip enamel from teeth if consumed in large, frequent amounts. As cranberries have anti-clotting properties, it is sometimes recommended they should not be eaten when people are taking blood thinners. However, this has not yet been proved.
Cranberry juice is very healthful and particularly effective for people with a tendency to develop urinary tract infections. It can also help to prevent tooth decay, as well as provide antioxidants to the diet. Drinking cranberry juice in moderation is the key to enjoying its benefits without risking any of its few negative effects.