Three new studies have joined the growing body of research reinforcing the cranberry’s well-documented health benefits, dense nutrients, and polyphenol antioxidants. Among the studies is the recently presented data from the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Council for High Blood Pressure Research Scientific Sessions, which correlates low-calorie cranberry juice consumption with improved blood pressure in adults. This, in conjunction with two new urinary tract health studies published by The Journal of Urology (Official Journal of the American Urological Association) and the Archives of Internal Medicine, joins the latest group of scientific studies that add to the cranberry’s health credentials.
“Studies associating cranberry consumption and preventative health, particularly improved cardiovascular and urinary tract health, are contributing to the growing body of scientific evidence suggesting the vital role cranberry and cranberry products play in a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.”
Cranberries and heart health
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), cranberry juice may have a beneficial effect on high blood pressure due to polyphenolic antioxidant compounds found in cranberries. The study, led by Janet Novotny, research physiologist for the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, and presented at the AHA’s High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions, found that participants who drank low-calorie cranberry juice as part of a healthy diet had lower blood pressure levels than those who did not.
The investigation targeted the effect of daily consumption of a low calorie cranberry juice cocktail (a rich source of polyphenol antioxidants) on blood pressure of healthy adults. After eight weeks, the USDA study found blood pressure values of those drinking the low-calorie cranberry juice had dropped significantly from an average of 121/73 mmHg to 118/70 mmHg. The placebo group showed no change.
“Hypertension affects more than 76 million U.S. adults and is an increasingly urgent issue given the aging population and the billions of dollars in total medical costs attributable to cardiovascular disease,” said Christina Khoo, Research Sciences Manager, Ocean Spray. “Understanding how the natural antioxidant benefits of cranberry juice can contribute to improved blood pressure among adults is a significant step in learning how to address and reduce the prevalence of hypertension in the U.S.”
Cranberries and urinary tract health in children
In addition to improved heart health, two recent studies showcase the cranberry’s potential to improve urinary tract health in children, a bacterial infection responsible for 50,000 pediatric hospitalizations in the U.S. per year. In a recent study conducted by the University of British Columbia and published in The Journal of Urology, scientists found that cranberry juice, when consumed by children suffering from recurring UTIs over a one-year period, reduced the risk of urinary tract infections in children by two-thirds, versus the placebo. The study, in tandem with a Finnish pediatric study published earlier this year showing decreased incidence of urinary tract infections and decreased number of days on antibiotics in Clinical Infectious Diseases, further positions cranberry juice as an important tool in helping to reduce recurrent UTIs in children.
Cranberries and urinary tract health in women
Similarly, a recent Archives of Internal Medicine meta-analysis found cranberries to have a protective effect on recurrent UTIs in susceptible populations such as women. Conducted by the National Taiwan University Hospital and National Taiwan University College of Medicine, the study, which analyzed 10 trials and a total of 1,494 subjects, concluded that regular cranberry juice drinkers were 38 percent less likely than non-cranberry-juice-drinkers to develop UTIs.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” added Khoo. “Studies associating cranberry consumption and preventative health, particularly improved cardiovascular and urinary tract health, are contributing to the growing body of scientific evidence suggesting the vital role cranberry and cranberry products play in a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.”