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Cranberry Juice: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

By Dr Ashok Pal +2 more

Introduction:  

Cranberries are typically sour, a bit sweet and rarely bitter. These delicious little berries are considered a functional food. Add to your salads or simply grind them in a jar, cranberries make for excellent addition to any dish. Cranberry juice is a delicious beverage with an attractive bright red colour thanks to the anthocyanin pigment present in it. It has high amount of acidity and tartness and less amount of sugars, making it a great combination with other sweet fruit juices.1,2 

benefits of cranberry juice

Cranberry juice can be easily made at home; you need fresh ripe cranberries. The juice can be obtained by cold pressing or simply blending the berries in a juicer. If you don’t like their sour taste, add some sugar to cut through the sourness. You can also store the cranberry juice in a sealed dark container till you feel like sipping on them at a later time.1 

The cranberry plant that produces these berries is an evergreen shrub mainly grown for its red, delicious cranberries. It is cultivated in North and South America, Great Britain, Australia, Newzealand and Europe. It is scientifically known as Vaccinium and belongs to the family Ericaceae.2 

Let’s read more about this sweet and sour juice and its potential uses, benefits and side effects. 

Did you know?

  • Cranberry juice consumers in the US have healthier macronutrient intakes and measures of body composition compared to non-consumers. source: NCCIH
  • Adult cranberry beverage consumers have higher carbohydrate and total sugar intake, but lower percent energy from protein and total fat. source: PMC
  • Cranberry juice consumers have similar or lower calorie intake and similar or higher levels of polyphenols compared to other 100% fruit juices. source: PMC

Nutritional Value of Cranberry Juice: 

Cranberries are healthy fruits with a whopping 85% water content. Cranberry juice has high nutritional value because of its chemical composition. It has a relatively low sugar content and high amount of organic acids, vitamins, minerals, flavonoids and anthocyanins.2 It is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  

The nutritional value of cranberry juice is as follows: 

Nutrients Components Value/100 g 
Energy 46 kcal 
Fats 0.13 g 
Protein  0.39 g 
Sugars 12.1 g 
Carbohydrates 12.2 g 
Fibre 0.1 mg 
Zinc 0.1 mg 
Selenium 0.1  µg 
Iron 0.25 mg 
Sodium 2 mg 
Copper 0.055 mg 
Calcium 8 mg 
Magnesium 6 mg 
Potassium 77 mg 
Phosphorus 13 mg 
Vitamin B2 0.018 mg 
Vitamin E 12 mg 
Vitamin B1 0.009 mg 
Vitamin C 9.3 mg 
Vitamin B3 0.091 mg 
Vitamin B9 1  µg 
Vitamin B6 0.052 mg 
Vitamin K 5.1  µg 
Vitamin A 45 IU 
Beta-carotene 27  µg 
Table 1: The nutritional value of unsweetened cranberry juice per 100 grams.3

  Also Read: Pomegranate Juice: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Properties of Cranberry Juice 

Cranberry juice is a rich source of valuable phytochemicals, such as vitamins and phenolic compounds, which may contribute to its biological properties listed below.2 

  • It may have antioxidant activity 
  • It may have antimicrobial activity 
  • It may have anti-cancer activity 
  • It may have anti-inflammatory action 
  • It may have a cholesterol lowering ability 
  • It may have a blood sugar lowering activity 
  • It may have a blood pressure lowering effect 
  • It may be beneficial for heart health.1,2 

Back in the day, Native Americans used cranberries to tackle the damage done by arrow wounds. Cranberries were also used to dye rugs and blankets. Now, cranberries have shown a myriad of health benefits.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: Watermelon Juice: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Potential Uses of Cranberry Juice: 

Cranberry juice might be beneficial for the health and may be recommended for daily use owing to its high nutritional profile.1 Some potential uses of cranberry juice are as follows: 

1. Potential uses of cranberry juice for urinary tract infection (UTI)  

The most well-known benefits of cranberry juice are that it may be beneficial for urinary tract infections (UTI). The UTI incidence increases with age. Few antibiotics are proven effective, but they carry side effects too. Therefore, non-antibiotic strategies like drinking cranberry juice have been considered.4 

The health benefits of cranberry juice might be associated with the presence of A-type proanthocyanidins antioxidant. It may decrease the attachment activities of bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. The French Food Safety Authority (Apr 2004) statement suggests that proanthocyanidins from cranberries might help reduce the adhesion of certain E. coli types pathogenic bacteria to the urinary tract.1 

This information is insufficient because there is lack of studies in humans. We require more human trials to back this claim. Therefore, you should speak to your doctor and only then have cranberry juice for UTIs. 

2. Potential uses of cranberry juice for cholesterol  

The benefits of cranberry juice may be because of its antioxidant activity. Anthocyanins are important antioxidants that might be effective in lowering cholesterol levels. They play an important role in free-radical scavenging, which might benefit by reducing the low-density lipoproteins (the ”bad” cholesterol) in the body and may help produce ”good” cholesterol.1  

However, this information is insufficient as these studies are not done on humans. Hence, more studies on humans are required to back this claim. Therefore, it is essential to first speak to your concerned doctors and only use cranberry juice as a medicine. 

3. Potential uses of cranberry juice for dental health  

The health benefits of cranberry juice may have potential uses in the management of the dental disease. The antibacterial properties of cranberry juice might stop the sticking of bacteria to the surface tooth, which may be beneficial in decreasing the formation of dental plaques. However, this information is insufficient and requires more clinically tested proof on humans.4 Therefore, it is necessary to take a doctor’s advice before using cranberry juice for dental health. 

4. Other Potential Uses of Cranberry Juice:  

  • The health benefit of cranberry juice might be seen in cold, flu, urinary and digestive problems.2 
  • In older times, sailors used cranberry juice to manage diseases like scurvy ( a vitamin C deficiency) given its high vitamin C content.2 
  • Cranberry juice might be beneficial in lowering blood sugar levels in the body which has been seen in both in-vitro and animal studies.2 
  • Drinking cranberry juice might show a reduction in urinary odour.4 
  • One of the benefits of drinking cranberry juice might be its use for lowering kidney stones. An old case study by Light et al. (1973) showed that people who drink cranberry juice show a reduction in urinary calcium excretion, which might be useful with recurrent renal stones.4 
  • Cranberry juice may have anti-carcinogenic properties, which might be associated with its effects on enzymes important in carcinogenesis.4 

Though there are studies showing the benefits of cranberry juice in various conditions, these are insufficient, and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of cranberry juice on human health. Every person may respond differently to these herbs. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor before using cranberry juice for any medical condition as a replacement for conventional medical treatment.  

Cranberries may help improve digestive health for people consuming an animal-based diet. Cranberries do so by reducing the bad microbes found in the colon.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Also Read: Carrot Beetroot Juice: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

How to Use Cranberry Juice? 

The cranberry juice uses are as follows: 

  • Cranberry juice can be used as a natural preservative in food.1 
  • It can be used to make cranberry syrup and jams.1 
  • It can be used as a fresh, delicious drink with sweeteners or mixed with other juices.2 
  • The concentrated cranberry juice can be diluted to make cranberry cocktails.4 

You should consult an Ayurvedic physician before drinking cranberry juice on a daily basis. In addition, we recommend you do not replace or discontinue your ongoing medications with any herbal preparations without seeking the medical advice of a doctor. They will guide the best form and dosage in which the herb can be used per your health condition. 

Side Effects of Cranberry Juice: 

Drinking cranberry juice every day in moderate volume has not shown any side effects.4 However, excess consumption might be dangerous to health. The cranberry juice side effects are described as follows:  Cranberry juice contains a high amount of oxalate and long-term intake may precipitate urinary stone formation, which might lead to kidney stones.4  

However, if you already have kidney-related issues, we recommend you avoid having the juice. And if you experience such side effects, immediately seek medical attention from your physician. They will prescribe you a better treatment. 

Also Read: Can You Have Sex With UTI? Understanding Risks and Precautions

Precautions to Take with Cranberry Juice: 

Drinking cranberry juice in a moderate dosage is safe. However, general precautions must be followed. 

  • People who take blood-thinning medicine must be cautious because of the possible interaction between cranberry juice and enzyme metabolising blood thinners.5    
  • People with kidney-related issues should limit their consumption of cranberry juice. It might cause side effects.4  
  • There is no sufficient information available to show the safe use of cranberry juice for breastfeeding and pregnant women. Thus, during these phases, women should consult their doctor before having it as a herb.  
  • People should be cautious while giving it to children and older people due to their weak immunity and might develop reactions in the body.    
  • Before consulting, one should never use cranberry juice or any other herb to self-medicate themselves.  

Also Read: Cucumber Juice: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

The bioactive compound such as antioxidants and flavonoids of cranberry juice might interact with other drugs resulting in herb-drug interaction. This phenomenon might affect the complete metabolism of certain drugs.5 

  • A case report by (Suvarna et al. 2003) suggested that  cranberry juice might interfere with specific enzymes (cytochrome P450) activity. It may lead to failure in the absorption of blood-thinning medicine (warfarin).5 
  • The constituents of cranberry juice may vary and this might cause potential herb-drug interaction.5 

Thus, if you take blood-thinning drugs, you must consult an Ayurvedic physician before consuming cranberry juice. They will direct you to the better way to have cranberry juice as a herb. 

Also Read: Cranberry Beans: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

 Frequently Asked Questions: 

What are the vitamins present in the cranberry juice? 

Cranberry juice contains vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B1, vitamin B9, vitamin B6, vitamin K and vitamin A.3 

Are there any side effects of cranberry juice during pregnancy? 

Drinking cranberry juice in small quantities is considered safe until excessive consumption happens.4 However, no report was recorded related to any side effects of cranberry juice during pregnancy. Therefore, before having it, one should take advice from a qualified doctor to avoid any complications. 

What are essential phytochemicals present in cranberry juice? 

The essential phytochemicals such as proanthocyanins, carotenoids, flavonoids, Vitamin C and phenolic acids are present in cranberry juice. These are the principal substances that might be responsible for the anti-cancer, antioxidant, antibacterial and glucose-lowering activity.2 However, a doctor’s consultation is necessary prior to use cranberry juice. They will prescribe you the best dosage form according to your health condition. 

What are the advantages of cranberry juice for UTI? 

Cranberry juice may have antibacterial activity. Drinking cranberry juice might be one of the non-antibiotic strategies that may be beneficial in managing recurrent urinary tract infections. However, this data is insufficient and requires more information on human trials. Therefore, without well-designed controlled trials, this strategy cannot be clinically recommended.4 

Does cranberry juice interact with any other drugs? 

Yes. There is a case reported by Suvarna et al. (2003) that suggested cranberry juice might interact with other drugs such as (warfarin, digoxin, and phenytoin). The case study was of a seventy-year-old man who died of a gastrointestinal (digestive tract) and pericardial (heart-sac) haemorrhage (bleeding).5 Therefore, it is essential to consult a doctor before using cranberry juice for any health condition. In addition, we recommend you do not change your ongoing treatment with any herbal preparations. 

Reference: 

1. Troter D, Stanojević Ljiljana. Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon L.) fruit juice from Serbia: UHPLC- DAD-MS/MS characterisation, antibacterial and antioxidant activities. LWT. 2021;146(111399):1–7. Available from: https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/7323941 

2. Bobis, O., Nayik, G.A., Wagay, J.A., Farooq, U., Zehra, A., Nanda, V. (2020). Cranberry. In: Nayik, G.A., Gull, A. (eds) Antioxidants in Fruits: Properties and Health Benefits. Springer, Singapore; 2020. p.479–505. Available from: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-15-7285-2_25 

3. United States Department of Agriculture [Internet] Cranberry juice, unsweetened; 2019 Apr 1. [cited 2022 Jul 1]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168117/nutrients  

4. Harkins KJ. What’s the use of cranberry juice? Age and Ageing. 2000;29(1):9–12. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10690688/ 

5. Sylvan L, Justice NP. Possible interaction between warfarin and cranberry juice. BMJ (Clini Res ed). 2003;327(7429):1454–1454. Available from: https://europepmc.org/backend/ptpmcrender.fcgi?accid=PMC300803&blobtype=pdf 

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