Nutritional Information for Cranberries
Cranberries are a potent cancer-fighting food with a high antioxidant capacity. In particular, cranberries contain flavonoids (anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, and flavonols), ursolic acid, benzoic acid, and hydroxycinnamic acid. These are just fancy names to identify plant compounds (aka: phytochemcials). In isolation, phytochemcial antioxidants don’t act as strong as if taking all phytochemicals together. The best way to obtain them all is by eating the “whole” food. As Dr. Greger puts it, “To get the same amount of anthocyanin phytonutrients in a cup of fresh or frozen cranberries, you’d have to drink 16 cups of cranberry juice cocktail, eat 7 cups of dried cranberries, or 26 cans of cranberry sauce.” Learn about ways utilize fresh cranberries, below.
Benefits of Cranberries
Cancer Prevention Benefits
Compounds in cranberries have been shown in vitro to suppress the growth of liver, breast, colon, brain, oral, ovarian and prostate cancer cells. Of course, we are not test tubes so it’s a bit more complicated to known what happens when men eat cranberries. Nevertheless, this research shows an important trend that cranberries and their plant constituents have an ability to quench cancer growth. The researchers conclude “These findings demonstrate that phytochemical extracts from the American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) can affect the behaviour of human prostate cancer cells in vitro and further support the potential health benefits associated with cranberries.”
Men with prostate cancer were divided into two groups during their radiation therapy. Half were asked to take a cranberry powder capsule and the other half a placebo capsule, to serve as the “control” group. During radiation a common side effect is bladder inflammation. Men taking the cranberry pill during and after treatment seemed to do significantly better. They had less inflammation, overall, and less risk of severe inflammation. Eating cranberries during radiation therapy may help reduce bladder inflammation. Other research shows cranberry capsules may reduce urinary tract infection in men with prostate cancer going through radiation.
Men's Health Benefits
Eating cranberries have been known to help with urinary tract infections (UTI), however, the best research to date suggests cranberries don’t really “treat” a UTI, but they can help prevent a recurrence, UTI from coming back in the future. Cranberry juice cocktail, although high in sugar, was still able to reduce levels or C-Reactive Protein (CRP), a common measure of inflammation. Since added sugar in not the best choice, try sweetening and making your own cranberry juice.
Ways to Use Cranberries
- To offset their tart taste, use with sweeter fruits, such as dates or raisins.
- Cranberry compote with dates
- Try Dr. Greger’s Pink Juice with Green Foam Drink.
Resources for Cranberries
American Institute for Cancer Research: www.aicr.org
“Foods that Fight Cancer” from AICR: Cranberries
Nutrition Facts: www.NutritionFacts.org
Physicians Committee: www.pcrm.org
- Hamilton K, Bennett NC, Purdie G, Herst PM. Standardized cranberry capsules for radiation cystitis in prostate cancer patients in New Zealand: a randomized double blinded, placebo controlled pilot study. Support Care Cancer. 2015;23(1):95-102.
- Déziel B, MacPhee J, Patel K, et al. American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) extract affects human prostate cancer cell growth via cell cycle arrest by modulating expression of cell cycle regulators. Food Funct. 2012;3(5):556-64.
- Bonetta A, Di Pierro F. Enteric-coated, highly standardized cranberry extract reduces risk of UTIs and urinary symptoms during radiotherapy for prostate carcinoma. Cancer Manag Res. 2012;4:281-6.
- Neto C. Cranberries: ripe for more cancer research? J Sci Food Agric. 201;91(13):2303-7.
- Seeram N, Adams L, Hardy M, Heber D. Total cranberry extract versus its phytochemical constituents: antiproliferative and synergistic effects against human tumor cell lines. J Agric Food Chem. 2004;52(9):2512-7.
- Duffey K, Sutherland L. Adult consumers of cranberry juice cocktail have lower C-reactive protein levels compared with nonconsumers. Nutr Res. 2015;35(2):118-26.
- Hisano M, Bruschini H, Nicodemo A, Srougi M. Cranberries and lower urinary tract infection prevention. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2012;67(6):661-68.