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Health benefits and risks of cranberries

Health Benefits Of Cranberries (But: You’d Better Watch Out)

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Health Benefits Of Cranberries (But: You’d Better Watch Out)

Quick clarification first: today we’re going to be talking about cranberries. Not “cranberry juice drink” that is loaded with sugar, nor “cranberry jelly” or similar that is more added sugar than it is cranberry.

We’re going to keep this short today, because “eat berries” is probably something you know already, but there are some things you should be aware of!

The benefits

Cranberries, even more than most berries, are full of polyphenols and flavonoids that do “those three things that usually come together”: antioxidant properties, anti-inflammatory properties, and anti-cancer properties

Unsurprisingly, this also means they’re good for the immune system and thus quite a boon in flu season:

Consumption of cranberry polyphenols enhances human γδ-T cell proliferation and reduces the number of symptoms associated with colds and influenza: a randomized, placebo-controlled intervention study

They’re also good for heart health:

The effects of cranberry on cardiovascular metabolic risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Quick Tip: we’re giving you one study for each of these things for brevity, but if you click through on any of our PubMed study links, you’ll (almost) always see a heading “Similar articles” heading beneath it, which will (almost) always show you plenty more.

Perhaps the most popular reason people take cranberry supplements, though, is their effectiveness at prevention of urinary tract infections:

Cranberry-containing products for prevention of urinary tract infections in susceptible populations: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Indeed, their effectiveness is such that researchers have considered them a putative alternative to antibiotics, particularly in individuals with recurrent UTIs:

Can Cranberries Contribute to Reduce the Incidence of Urinary Tract Infections? A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis and Trial Sequential Analysis of Clinical Trials

Is it safe?

Cranberries are generally considered a very healthful food. However, there are two known possible exceptions:

If you are taking warfarin, it is possible that cranberry consumption may cause additional anti-clotting effects that you don’t want.

If you are at increased risk of kidney stones, the science is currently unclear as to whether this will help or hinder:

Where can I get some?

You can probably buy fresh, frozen, or dried cranberries from wherever you normally do your grocery shopping.

However, if you prefer to take it in supplement form, then here’s an example product on Amazon 😎


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