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Dried Cranberries: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction: 

Bright red cranberries are not just a delight to the eyes but are packed with goodness. Dried fruits serve as a healthy snack throughout the world. They are concentrated forms of fresh fruits. This reduces service sizes with the same nutritional value. Cranberries with scientific name Vaccinium macrocarpon, has several benefits for human health. It may be consumed as juices, sweetened dried cranberries, etc.  Fruit concentrates or sugar is infused into cranberries before drying to get sweetened dried cranberries. 1,2 Read along to learn more about the potential dried cranberry benefits and side effects. 

dried cranberry benefits

Nutritional Value of Dried Cranberries: 

Dried cranberries are rich in phytochemicals such as total phenolics, flavonoids and flavanols. The percentage nutritional value and nutritional content of dried cranberries is as follows1,3

Nutrient Percentage Value 
Fat 2% 
Carbohydrate 48% 
Dietary Fibre 30% 
Protein 1% 
Calcium 1% 
Iron 3% 
Potassium 2% 

Table 1: Percentage of nutrients in dried cranberries3 

It also comprises some amounts of Vitamins such as: Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Vitamin K. Moreover, each 160gm serve of dried cranberries contains 493 calories and it comprises of a high sugar content of about 116.10 gm. 

Properties of Dried Cranberries: 

Due to rich phytochemical compositions dried cranberries might have potential health-promoting properties such as: 

  • It might show antioxidant properties. 
  • It may have cardio protective effects. 
  • It might have antipathogenic or antibiotic properties. 
  • It might have anti-diabetic activity. 
  • It may have anti-Inflammatory activity.1 

Potential Uses of Dried Cranberries for Overall Health: 

Clinical studies and observations have demonstrated potential health benefits of dried cranberry, some of which are as following: 

1. Potential uses of Dried Cranberries for Urinary Tract Infections: 

Dried cranberries were reviewed by Howell et al., 2005; Jepson & Craig, 2007; Howell, 2007; Vasileiou, et. al, 2013; for their ability to effectively reduce severity of urinary tract Infections (UTI) and its reoccurrence. Micali et al. (2014), evaluated the efficacy of dried cranberry that may potentially be beneficial in UTI for young and middle-aged women. However, more evidence for its use for humans and its clinical use needs further investigation.1 Cranberries might be effective against UTI as it may help reduce the ability of bacteria to adhere to the bladder wall, thus, they might not grow and trigger infection.4 

2. Potential uses of Dried Cranberries for Cardiovascular disorders 

Ruel et. al 2006 and Lee et. al in 2008, suggested that supplementing a group of patients with bioactive compounds found in cranberry extract might help to manage proteins responsible in an increase in HDL-C (high-density lipoprotein concentration) also known as good cholesterol concentration and improves removal of excess bad cholesterol from the body. Thus, the dried cranberries might have some effect on cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) health. Further studies would be required to estimate the effect of dried cranberries on cardiovascular health in humans.4 

A variety of other mechanisms might account for a favourable effect of cranberry consumption on cardiovascular disease. These are described below: 

Potential uses of Dried Cranberries for Platelet Aggregation:

As per studies conducted on animal models, cranberry juice might be capable of managing platelet aggregation (platelets clump together to form blood clots). Dried cranberries can have some beneficiary effect on platelet aggregation and thrombosis (blood clots that block your blood vessels). Thus, dried cranberries might help in management of in vascular diseases. This effect seems to be not proven and needs to be studied further.4 

Potential uses of Dried Cranberries for Stiffness of Central Aorta:

Dohadwala et al. 2011 in their studies have shown that consumption of cranberry juice might have some effect in providing relief from stiffness in central aorta (the main blood vessel through which oxygen and nutrients travel from the heart to all organs). Similar effects might be observed with dried cranberries as they help with stiffness of central aorta and help in circulation of oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Since any issue with central blood flow is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease outcomes dried cranberries might in turn provide benefits for cardiovascular diseases.4 

3. Potential uses of Dried Cranberries for Lowering Blood Pressure 

Cranberry extract was studied on animals for its effect on an increase in blood pressure. An in-vitro study suggested that cranberry extracts inhibit angiotensin (a protein-based hormone that causes blood vessels to become narrower) formation. Therefore, it might have some effect in lowering blood pressure.4 More studies providing evidence based support to this claim are needed. 

4. Potential uses of Dried Cranberries for Managing Diabetes 

Animal studies have also determined that flavonoids derived from cranberry may have some effect on lowering blood glucose directly. Indirectly, it may reduce blood glucose level by an improved insulin sensitivity as per some animal models having diabetes mellitus.4 However, effect of dried cranberries on diabetes in humans is barely explored. We need further studies to validate the dried cranberry benefits for diabetes.  

5. Potential uses of Dried Cranberries for its Anti-Inflammatory benefits 

Various in-vitro studies indicate that the bioactive compounds found in cranberry might suppress the activation of immune reaction that may cause inflammation. Several human studies have also provided evidence for anti-inflammatory effect of cranberries. However, these do not provide sufficient evidence for the exact effect on humans thus, further studies are required to clarify these conclusions.4 

Though there are studies that show several dried cranberry benefits in various conditions, but these are insufficient and there is a need of further studies to establish the true extent of benefits of dried cranberries on human health.  

How to Use Dried Cranberries? 

Sweetened dried cranberries can be had as a suitable snacking option.2 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.   

I may suggest including dried cranberries in your diet if you want to support your oral health naturally. Cranberries contain compounds that may ward off bacteria in the mouth, possibly reducing the risk of cavities, gum disease, tooth decay, and even oral cancer.

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

Also Read: How to Freeze Dry Food: Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Side Effects of Dried Cranberries: 

Cranberries might generally regarded be as safe, but consuming them in larger amount can cause diarrhoea and upset stomach in young children.5 Dried cranberries side effects may be similar. Thus, they must be eaten in regulated amounts as per the guidance of our Ayurvedic physician. 

I may say that by including dried cranberries in your diet, you might support the growth of good bacteria in your digestive system. The unique compounds found in cranberries might help reduce the presence of harmful microbes in the colon, creating a more favourable environment for beneficial bacteria.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Precautions to Take with Dried Cranberries:  

  • Precaution in Children  

Only regulated and controlled quantity of dried cranberries might be given to children only if advised by a qualified doctor. It may pose a risk of diarrhoea and stomach upset in young children.5 

  • Precautions in pregnant and lactating women  

No proper evidence is available about the safe use of dried cranberry for women during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Thus, they must be taken only after consulting with a doctor. 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Some studies have shown that cranberry might interacts with the anticoagulant (blood thinner) such as warfarin.Thus, you must discuss your ongoing medications and inform your doctor if you are already on blood thinners like warfarin before consuming dried cranberries. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) Are dried cranberries good for you? 

Dried cranberries may have several benefits for overall health they might have potential benefits for urinary tract infections, cardiovascular health, blood pressure, diabetes etc. Thus, eating dried cranberries as a snack can be a suitable option and they might be good for our health as well if taken in moderation under guidance of an Ayurvedic physician.1,4 

2) Which vitamins are present in dried cranberries? 

Dried cranberries are good source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin K and Vitamin E and thus they may help with the benefits of these vitamins.3 

3) Are dried cranberries safe for pregnant women? 

Cranberries might generally be regarded as safe, but there is insufficient evidence to validate safety of dried cranberry for women during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Thus, they must be taken in moderation and only after consulting with a doctor.5 

4) Do dried cranberries interact with any drug? 

Studies have demonstrated the interaction of cranberry with warfarin an anticoagulant (blood thinner).Thus, before consuming dried cranberries you are advised to discuss your ongoing medications with your doctor.5 

5) How are dried cranberries beneficial for Urinary Tract Infections? 

Dried cranberries might have some ability to effectively reduce severity of urinary tract Infections (UTI) and its reoccurrence. Researchers have evaluated the efficacy of dried cranberry that may potentially be beneficial in UTI for young and middle-aged women.4 However, these do not provide sufficient evidence for the exact effect on humans. You must consult a doctor before using dried cranberries for its benefits. 

References: 

  1. Chang SK, Alasalvar C, Shahidi F. Review of dried fruits: Phytochemicals, antioxidant efficacies, and health benefits. Journal of Functional Foods. 2016 Mar 1;21:113-32. Internet [cited on Oct 2022] Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1756464615005812  
  1. Kovacev K, Hughes B, Smith JS. Polyphenol stability and physical characteristics of sweetened dried cranberries. Foods. 2020 May;9(5):551. Internet [cited on Oct 2022] Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/9/5/551/pdf?version=1590575601  
  1. Cranberries, dried nutrition facts and analysis. NutritionValue.Org. Internet [cited on Oct 2022] Available from: Cranberries, dried nutrition facts and analysis. (nutritionvalue.org)  
  1. Blumberg JB, Camesano TA, Cassidy A, Kris-Etherton P, Howell A, Manach C, Ostertag LM, Sies H, Skulas-Ray A, Vita JA. Cranberries and their bioactive constituents in human health. Advances in Nutrition. 2013 Nov;4(6):618-32. Internet [cited on Oct 2022] Available from: https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/4/6/618/4595566  
  1. Cranberry. NCCIH. Internet [cited on Oct 2022] Available from: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cranberry  

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