Some new studies show the health benefits of Cranberries:
"Light" Cranberry Juice is Good for Type 2 Diabetics
In a crossover design study, researchers at Winona State University assessed the acute metabolic effects on the blood sugar control among type 2 diabetics after drinking four different beverages. The study included 6 men and women with type 2 diabetes. Each drank, on separate occasions, 8 oz. of the following: regular sweetened cranberry juice (130 kcal/8 oz); sweetened fruit beverages control (140 kcal/8 oz); low-calorie cranberry juice (19 kcal/8 oz); and a low-calorie control (19 kcal/8 oz).
The researchers reported that when the subject drank the low calorie cranberry juice beverage, the blood sugar response was not significantly different from baseline, with a peak of only 16 percent above baseline values. Similarly, plasma insulin levels were not considered significantly different than baseline after drinking the low-calorie cranberry juice beverage.
The authors concluded that low-calorie cranberry juice cocktail beverages are an acceptable choice for individuals with type 2 diabetes. These results are promising for individuals with type 2 diabetes because they often have insufficient fruit intake and they are at increased risk for developing urinary tract infections (UTIs). An 8 oz. serving of light cranberry juice counts as two fruit servings and may help prevent UTIs.
Source: Wilson T, Meyers SL, Singh AP, et al. Favorable glycemic responses to low-calorie cranberry juice. J Food Science. 2008; 73(9):241-45.
Cranberry May Provide Oral Health Benefits
The benefits associated with cranberries may begin as soon as you take a sip or bite. According to a study from the Tokyo Dental College, cranberries may protect the teeth from bacteria that can contribute to cavities, or cariogenesis. Cranberry polyphenol fractions, in dose-dependent fashion, decreased oral bacteria’s ability to adhere to the tooth surface, thus decreasing cariogenesis.
This anti-adhesion behavior and affect on oral health has also been evaluated by the Center for Oral Biology and Eastman Department of Dentistry at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The authors note that this indicates that cranberry juice may be a natural way to prohibit oral-diseases. Protecting oral health has added advantages as investigations have started to find links between oral health and cardiovascular disease risk.
Manufacturers are even beginning to add cranberry extracts to oral care products, including toothpaste, mouth rinses and even dental floss.
Source: Yamanaka-Okada A., Sato E, Kouchi,T, et al. Inhibitory effect of cranberry polyphenol on cariogenic bacteria. Bull Tokyo Dent Coll. 2008; 49(3):107-112.
Koo H, Nino de Guzman P, Schobel BD, et al. Influence of cranberry juice on glucan-mediated processes involved in Streptococcus mutans biofilm development. Caries Res. 2006;40(1):20-27.
By investigating the polyphenolic extracts found in cranberries, researchers from Rutgers University identified an in vitro anti-cancer affect on ovarian cancer cells. The impact of polyphenolic extracts, the main flavonoid class in cranberries called proanthocyanidins (PACs) was analyzed in vitro on human ovarian, neuroblastoma and prostate cancer cells. Treatment with the PACs promoted cell death or apoptosis in the ovarian cancer cells as well as a decrease in proliferation. PACs had a cytotoxic affect on the other cancer cells, suggesting that they decrease the integrity of the neuroblastoma and prostate cancer cells. The results of this study emphasize the potential for PAC-rich cranberries to impact chronic disease risk in addition to their anti-adhesion properties.
Singh, AP., Smitch, RK., Kim, KK., et al. Cranberry proanthocyanidins are cytotoxic to human cancer cells and sensitize platinum-resistant ovarian cancer cells to paraplatin. Phytother Res. 2009 Jan 26 [Epub ahead of print].