Most people have probably heard that cranberry juice is really good for the body. However, when most people talk about this juice, it is usually in terms of urinary tract health. And it is definitely true that regular consumption of cranberry juice can help treat urinary infections and also help prevent the formation of kidney stones (or help dissolve them if they are already formed). This is largely due to their high acidity, which can both kill off bacteria and dissolve the calcium from which stones are made. However, increasingly, people in the medical community are stepping back to look at the bigger picture of the important benefits that cranberry juice can offer. One of these benefits appears to be a significant contribution to the health of the heart. Let's take a look at recent research which suggests that cranberries should definitely be included on the list of heart-healthy foods.
The link between cranberries and heart health uncovered
The recent buzz surrounding cranberries is due to the recent publication of a study in the Journal of Nutrition. In this study, researchers looked at 56 obese men and women with risk factors for heart disease. During the course of the eight-week study, participants supplemented their diet with a placebo beverage or a daily glass of cranberry juice which contained 173mg of phenolic compounds with known antioxidant properties. The juice was sweetened with sucralose to keep in low in calories.
At the end of the eight weeks, it was found that the participants who drank the cranberry juice daily showed improvements in many markers which are risk factors for heart disease. The juice drinkers displayed lower blood pressure, reduced inflammation throughout the body, lower blood sugar levels and decreased insulin resistance compared to those who had consumed the placebo beverage.
Why is cranberry juice so healthy?
Most researchers believe that cranberry juice is so healthy because of its rich nutrient content. Not only is it high in vitamin C, potassium and other important vitamins and minerals, it is a rich source of phenols and other active compounds as well. These compounds have strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties which can reduce inflammation and support and nurture the health of blood vessels and heart tissue, which in turn supports the overall good function of the heart itself.
Thus, it is obvious from this study that cranberry juice is good for more than just a healthy urinary tract (though this is important, too!). Regular consumption of cranberry juice, mostly due to its phenols and other active compounds, can improve many of the markers which predict heart disease and help to prevent serious events like heart attacks in the future.