Cranberry – it is worth reaching for it?

Cranberry has been used for decades, but it has only recently been possible to determine how it works. The name of the plant comes from the Canadian crane, most likely because the small cranberry flowers resemble the head and beak of the mentioned bird. We distinguish two mainly varieties of American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) and European (V oxycoccos).

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Cranberry is sometimes recommended for the prevention, treatment and alleviation of urinary tract infections. It also affects the formation of kidney stones. When it comes to the prevention of urinary tract infections, the tests bring different results (newer meta analyzes do not confirm the significant effectiveness of cranberries in this respect). Cranberry contains phytochemicals that can have a positive effect on cancer and vascular diseases, but this requires further detailed research. Most likely, it leads to the induction of apoptosis of cancer cells (however, these are studies on cell lines, so I would not approach them with too much enthusiasm, in these conditions anti-cancer properties of many compounds that later were not effective in the human system). 

Similarly, cranberry compounds with inhibition of MMP-2 and MMP-9 (in prostate cancer cells) were established on cell lines. Cranberry has been found to contain anthocyanins, procyanidins and flavonols. Anthocyanins belong to the polyphenolic organic compounds – flavonoids. One of the more well-known representatives of natural polyphenols (stillbenoid) is resveratrol (trans-3,4 ‘, 5-trihydroxystilbene, RES). Currently, several hundred natural anthocyanin pigments are known (obtained, among others, from grapes, chokeberry, blueberries, black currants) and over one hundred synthetically obtained. These compounds have health-promoting properties. The most important ones include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-atherosclerotic, anticancer effects. 

In addition, cranberries have been found to have a positive effect on the atherosclerotic profile (an effect on cholesterol has been noted) and reduce several cardiometabolic risk factors. Currently, more and more evidence points to other important roles of cranberries in maintaining the health of the digestive system. It has been shown that cranberry juice or cranberry inhibit colonization of H. pylori in the stomach (may be important for stomach cancer) and protect against intestinal inflammation. 

Conclusion Cranberry is a very useful plant and it is worth to include it in your diet, if only for preventive reasons. Currently, it is widely available in traditional and online stores. 

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You can read also: What are raspberry ketones and how do they work?

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