Cranberries: Unique Support for Urinary Tract, Gut Flora, and Heart Health

November 14, 2022 | Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

Send to a friend

* Required fields

  or  Cancel

 Cranberries: Unique Support for Urinary Tract, Gut Flora, and Heart Health
As we approach Thanksgiving and the holiday season, cranberries have a significant place in our foods during the festivities. This bright red tart berry is commonly blended into desserts and juices. It adds flavor to the turkey and dressing on your plate.

After the holidays, it often takes a backseat to other berries, until you feel that urgent need to rush to the restroom. Cranberries offer unique, rich sources of several phytonutrients. They provide much more than flavorful cocktail or sauce for your Thanksgiving meal.

Tart Berries Bursting with Super Food Benefits

The American cranberry is a rich source of polyphenols and several types of flavonoids such as flavonols, anthocyanidins, unique A-type proanthocyanidins, along with phenolic acids and complex carbohydrates such as cranberry pectic oligosaccharides (c-POS) and xyloglucan. These components, and others, make the American cranberry a valuable super food not just during the holidays, but throughout the year.

Cell, animal, and human studies provide great insight into vast array of cranberry’s beneficial properties for the whole body. Here is a brief overview of recent findings.

Multiple Overall Protective Mechanisms

On a cellular level, cranberry phytonutrients provide antioxidant support and impair unhealthy cell proliferation, division, and growth. They induce cell apoptosis in unhealthy cells and inhibit cell oxidation from inflammatory processes. They help immune modulatory actions against bacteria and virus particles. In addition, use of cranberry extract modulates levels of inflammatory molecules including c-reactive protein, angiotensin enzymes and cytokines.

Cranberry supports beta cell activity in the pancreas, which aids insulin metabolism. Cranberry supports natural production of beneficial nitric oxide (NO). This enhances blood vessel relaxation, lactic acid management, nerve signaling mechanisms, and much more. These effects contribute to how cranberry aids cardiovascular health and cholesterol metabolism.

Special Compounds in Cranberries

Cranberries contain several special nutrients including A-type proanthocyanidins, cranberry pectic oligosaccharides (c-POS) and xyloglucan. These compounds provide a stellar array of functional health benefits for urinary tract, digestive health and more!

A-Type Proanthocyanidins

Cranberries contain significant amounts of A-type proanthocyanidins (AC-PACs). Most fruits commonly contain B-type proanthocyanidins. AC-PACs provide a unique structure that gives cranberries its powerful ability to block adhesion of bacteria in the urinary tract. B-type proanthocyanidins, found in other plants, are not nearly as valuable in this regard.

A-type proanthocyanidins from cranberry also support bone health. Human cell studies showed that AC-PACs inhibited compounds that cause cell inflammation and breakdown. AC-PACS blocked the growth and maturation of osteoclast cells, which are involved with bone breakdown. There was also a six-fold increased production of beneficial IL-8, an immune compound that buffered against oxidative stress in bone tissues.

Cranberry Pectic Oligosaccharides and Urinary Tract Health

Another compound in cranberry is called cranberry pectic oligosaccharides (c-POS). It provides powerful protection for urogenital-immune health. Like A-type proanthocyanidins, this compound provides anti-adhesive effects against bacteria, which blocks bacteria from sticking to mucosal tissues in the urinary tract and impairs their growth. c-POS stopped bacteria from conglomerating together and burrowing into the urinary tract and bladder mucosal lining.

Cranberry-POS also inhibits biofilm formation, which is a defense mechanism that germs hide behind to avoid immune system surveillance. cPOS provides beneficial immunomodulatory and inflammation management. Other research showed that c-POS hindered and reduced the presence of silently lingering, low-levels of E-coli in the urinary tract.

Dental Health

Cranberry’s c-POS and other flavonoids have been found helpful in reduction of biofilms found in the oral cavity. Studies demonstrate that cranberry extracts impair bacterial adhesion and biofilms that affect your teeth. Use of cranberry extracts reduced the mass, number, and volume of biofilms in oral studies. Biofilms and the bacteria that hide behind them contribute to dental decay and cavities.

Proven to Be Effective

Cranberry extracts that contain these powerful compounds have been found effective for urinary tract health with several double-blind, placebo-controlled trials and systematic and meta-analyses reports.

Cranberry extracts have been found helpful for support of urinary tract health with the presence of urinary catheters. Women who were catheterized for surgical procedures had 50 percent less occurrence of urinary issues with cranberry extract use compared to those who didn’t consume it.

Gut Health and Cranberry Phytonutrients

Cranberry pectic oligosaccharides (c-POS) and xyloglucans provide support beyond urinary tract health, as they aid your gastrointestinal microbiome. Beneficial bacteria Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria benefit greatly from cranberry.

Cutting edge research published July 2022 identified that c-POS supports the natural growth of Lactobacillus, a beneficial bacteria in your gut. c-POS acts like a prebiotic for Lactobacillus. In a similar manner, cranberry xyloglucan (a type of fiber in cranberry) supported the growth of beneficial Bifidobacteria in the digestive tract.

Another important part of cranberries effect on gut health is that it supports production of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in the colon. SCFAs are essential for protection and repair of the mucosal barrier in your digestive tract and help promote bowel motility. SCFAs are also a critical component of healthy blood sugar and insulin function, liver metabolism, and weight management.

In other research, clinical trials have also showed that cranberry extracts inhibited the growth of H pylori in the digestive tract. H pylori is a common problematic bacteria in the digestive tract. H pylori also negatively impacts thyroid health.

Vital UT

American cranberries are harvested October thru December, which makes fresh berries readily available now. Other forms, like juice, juice cocktails, tinctures, and extracts have a wide range of the discussed cranberry phytonutrients. Processed cranberry products may have very little special compounds by the time it gets to you.

We offer whole cranberry fruit in the product Vital UT. It contains 36 mg proanthocyanidins per serving, a standardized amount used in research studies. This product has been a customer favorite for urinary tract health, but cranberry benefits go far beyond these dimensions. Add some cranberry to your nutritional and dietary regime for the holiday season and beyond!

Search thousands of health news articles!