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Cranberry: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

By Dr Anuja Bodhare +2 more


Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) are fruits grown in Northeastern and North Central parts of the United States of America. Cranberries are also known as American cranberry and bearberry.1 They are harvested in the US and Canada between the months of September and October.

There are two methods used for the harvest of cranberries, wet harvest and dry harvest. In case of wet harvest, the cranberry farms are flooded and the fruits that float are collected; whereas, in the case of dry harvest, no water is used.  

A box of cranberries

Wet harvest fruits are used to prepare processed cranberry juice and sauce, whereas dry harvest fruit is cleaned and packaged as fresh fruit.2 All the available cranberry products provide similar health benefits and can be easily incorporated into the daily diet.2    

Nutritional Value of Cranberry

The nutritional value of cranberries is given in the table below; 100 grams of cranberries contain 

Nutrient (unit) Value  
Energy (Kcal) 46 
Protein (g) o.46 
Carbohydrates (g) 12  
Fibre, total dietary (g) 3.6  
Sugars, total (g) 4.27  
Total fat (g) 0.13  
Potassium (mg) 80 
Calcium (mg) 
Iron (mg) 0.23 
Magnesium (mg) 6  
Phosphorous (mg) 11 
Vitamin C (mg) 14 
Table 1: Nutritional value of cranberries (per 100 grams)3 

Properties of Cranberries    

Many phytochemicals are also present in cranberries, for example, beta carotene, flavonoids, proanthocyanidins and anthocyanins are responsible for its beneficial properties.4,5    

  • It may have beneficial activities for bladder
  • It may have beneficial properties for stomach
  • It may show liver protecting properties
  • It may have anti-diabetes properties
  • It may show wounds healing activity.1    

Potential Uses of Cranberries    

Cranberries have several health benefits in multiple systems as seen below.  

Potential Uses of Cranberries for Cardiovascular Health    

Consumption of cranberry juice can help manage cholesterol levels in obese men and women. Cranberry juice improves antioxidant status and may increases High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (good cholesterol). It can thus reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by lowering levels of inflammatory markers and improving the regulation of blood glucose.7    The studies available seem insufficient to validate these claims, therefore consult an ayurvedic physician before taking cranberries for its effect on cardiovascular health.

Potential Uses of Cranberries for Cancer Prevention  

The compounds present in cranberries have positive effects on cancer cells. These compounds might reduce inflammation, slow down growth, and cause the death of cancer cells. Studies found that cranberries may defeat the three main characteristics of cancer cells i.e. resisting cell death, invasive activity and spread and ongoing signaling to multiply in number.

Proanthocyanidins present in cranberries have shown inhibitory action against the formation of malignant cancers in the mouth in studies.8    There is a need of more extensive research to validate the effect of cranberries in humans. Furthermore, cancer needs to be diagnosed and treated by a qualified doctor, hence, kindly consult a doctor.

Potential Uses of Cranberries in Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Prevention  

Cranberries may be recommended foods for women with recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI).9 Taking cranberry extract capsules twice a day has also shown promising results in reducing the incidence of UTIs in studies.10  However, the urinary tract infections may need medical supervision and diagnosis. Consult a qualified doctor for the treatment of any such conditions.

Potential Uses of Cranberries for Skin      

Cranberries are rich in vitamin C.3 Vitamin C may have several benefits on the skin, such as stimulating collagen synthesis and protecting from UV rays-induced photodamage.

Collagen is essential for skin elasticity and wound healing.11 Vitamin E found in cranberries may be a good antioxidant helpful in reducing the damage related to UV radiation exposure.12  

Also Read: 5 Home Remedies for Clear Skin

Potential Uses of Cranberries for Digestive Health    

Consumption of cranberry products in young and older women may help in eradicating Helicobacter pylori infections.13    

Although studies show the benefits of cranberries in different health conditions, this information is insufficient. Hence, there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of cranberries on human health. Furthermore, every person may respond differently to these herbs. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor before using cranberries for any medical condition.

As per my observations, cranberries might do more than just help fight urinary tract infections. The same compounds that help with UTIs, called a-type proanthocyanidins, may also ward off bacteria from forming in your mouth. This means that cranberries might have the potential to avert cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay by controlling the production of harmful acids in your mouth.

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

Also Read: Chandraprabha Vati – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

How to Use Cranberries 

Cranberries are available in various forms, such as fresh cranberry fruit, cranberry juice, cranberry sauce, and dried cranberries.   Raw cranberries have a bitter and sharp taste. 2      

You should always take the advice of an Ayurvedic physician before having cranberries for its benefits. In addition, we recommend you do not replace or discontinue your ongoing medications with any ayurvedic or herbal preparations without seeking the medical advice of a qualified doctor. They will guide you with the best form and dosage in which the herb can be used per your health condition.

I would suggest incorporating cranberries into your diet because they might have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. These effects are due to the high levels of antioxidants found in cranberries, such as anthocyanins and flavanols, which are responsible for their dark colour. Antioxidants have been shown to potentially reduce the risk of chronic diseases by lowering inflammation in your body.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

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

 Side Effects of Cranberries  

  The side effects of cranberries are 

  • Cranberries come under the category of GRAS (generally regarded as safe), but consumption in large amounts can cause upset stomach and diarrhoea in young children.1   
  • Concentrated extracts of cranberries contain a high amount of oxalates. Oxalates are a risk factor for kidney stones when consumed in high amounts. People with a history of kidney stones should reduce the consumption of cranberries and their products.15  

Also Read: Ginko Biloba – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

Precautions to Take with Cranberries    

Precaution in Children 

If a large amount of cranberries is eaten by children, it can lead to an upset stomach and diarrhoea.1 People with a history of kidney stones should avoid eating cranberries in large amounts.15 

Precautions in pregnant & lactating women 

Cranberry juice is safe in all trimesters of pregnancy. Cranberries are safe during pregnancy and show no ill effects on the mother or the baby.16  Cranberries juice, as well as cranberry capsules, can be taken during the breastfeeding period.17  

Interactions with Other Drugs 

Patients taking warfarin should be informed regarding the potential interaction between warfarin and cranberry consumption. You must inform your doctor if you are already on blood thinners like warfarin before consuming cranberries. .18  

Also Read: Rosemary – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

Frequently Asked Questions 

1) What are the benefits of cranberries? 

Cranberries are a good source of antioxidants and vitamins. Cranberries also help manage urinary tract infections, improve cardiovascular health and skin condition.12    These activities, however, are yet to be proved in humans.

2) Are cranberries beneficial for the skin? 

Cranberries are rich in vitamin C and vitamin E. These vitamins show many benefits to the skin. Vitamin C helps in collagen synthesis and protects from UV induced photodamage. Collagen is essential for skin elasticity and wound healing.11 Vitamin E found in cranberries is a strong antioxidant effective in reducing the damage related to UV radiation exposure.12  There is a need of more extensive research to validate the effect of cranberries in humans.

3) Are cranberries helpful in weight loss? 

Cranberries have high fibre content.4 A high fibre intake helps in reducing the risk of obesity.    however your nutritionist will guide you in much petter way.    

4) What are the side effects of cranberries? 

Cranberries come under the category of GRAS (generally regarded as safe), but consumption in large amounts can cause upset stomach and diarrhoea in young children.1   

5) Is cranberry a citrus fruit? 

Cranberries are not citrus fruits. Cranberries are berries that belong to a different family Ericaceae.19  

6) What to make with cranberries? 

Cranberry juice and cranberry sauce are some preparations of the cranberries. Raw cranberries have a bitter and sharp taste. 2   

Also Read: Aryogyavardhani Vati – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions


  1. Cranberry [Internet]. NCCIH. Available from: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cranberry 
  1. About Cranberries [Internet]. Cranberry Institute. 2019. Available from: https://www.cranberryinstitute.org/about-cranberries 
  1. FoodData Central [Internet]. fdc.nal.usda.gov. [cited 2022 Feb 3]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171722/nutrients 
  1. FoodData Central [Internet]. fdc.nal.usda.gov. [cited 2022 Feb 3]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168117/nutrients 

5. Narwojsz A, TaÅ„ska M, Mazur B, Borowska EJ. Fruit Physical Features, Phenolic Compounds Profile and Inhibition Activities of Cranberry Cultivars (Vaccinium macrocarpon) Compared to Wild-Grown Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus). Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 2019;74(3):300-306. doi:10.1007/S11130-019-00737-7/TABLES/4 

6. Howell AB, Reed JD, Krueger CG, Winterbottom R, Cunningham DG, Leahy M. A-type cranberry proanthocyanidins and uropathogenic bacterial anti-adhesion activity. Phytochemistry. 2005;66(18):2281-2291. doi:10.1016/J.PHYTOCHEM.2005.05.022 

7. Chew B, Mathison B, Kimble L, et al. Chronic consumption of a low calorie, high polyphenol cranberry beverage attenuates inflammation and improves glucoregulation and HDL cholesterol in healthy overweight humans: a randomized controlled trial. European journal of nutrition. 2019;58(3):1223-1235. doi:10.1007/S00394-018-1643-Z 

8. Weh KM, Clarke J, Kresty LA. Cranberries and Cancer: An Update of Preclinical Studies Evaluating the Cancer Inhibitory Potential of Cranberry and Cranberry Derived Constituents. Antioxidants. 2016;5(3). doi:10.3390/ANTIOX5030027 

9. Liska DAJ, Kern HJ, Maki KC. Cranberries and Urinary Tract Infections: How Can the Same Evidence Lead to Conflicting Advice? Advances in Nutrition. 2016;7(3):498. doi:10.3945/AN.115.011197 

10. Caljouw MAA, MSc, Hout WB van den, et al. Effectiveness of Cranberry Capsules to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections in Vulnerable Older Persons: A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial in Long-Term Care Facilities. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2014;62(1):103. doi:10.1111/JGS.12593 

11. Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. 2017;9(8). doi:10.3390/NU9080866 

12. Park K. Role of Micronutrients in Skin Health and Function. Biomolecules & Therapeutics. 2015;23(3):207. doi:10.4062/BIOMOLTHER.2015.003 

13. Shmuely H, Ofek I, Weiss EI, Rones Z, Houri-Haddad Y. Cranberry components for the therapy of infectious disease. Current opinion in biotechnology. 2012;23(2):148-152. doi:10.1016/J.COPBIO.2011.10.009 

14. Lila MA. Anthocyanins and Human Health: An In Vitro Investigative Approach. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology. 2004;2004(5):306. doi:10.1155/S111072430440401X 

15. Terris MK, Issa MM, Tacker JR. Dietary supplementation with cranberry concentrate tablets may increase the risk of nephrolithiasis. Urology. 2001;57(1):26-29. doi:10.1016/S0090-4295(00)00884-0 

16. Heitmann K, Nordeng H, Holst L. Pregnancy outcome after use of cranberry in pregnancy – the Norwegian mother and child cohort study. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013;13:345. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-345 

17. Cystitis in the Breastfeeding Mother [Internet]. The Breastfeeding Network. [cited 2022 Feb 3]. Available from: https://www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/cystitis/ 

18. Drug Interactions: Review [Internet]. Cranberry Institute. [cited 2022 Feb 3]. Available from: https://www.cranberryinstitute.org/cranberry-health-research/library/category/drug-interactions/drug-interactions-review 

19. Neto CC, Vinson JA. Cranberry. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects: Second Edition. Published online March 28, 2011:107-130. doi:10.5040/9781635577068-0542 

Also Read: Sandalwood – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions


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