Cranberries are edible fruits of plant found in cooler climates of
northern hemisphere. They are only found in cooler, sunny, wet and moist
environment. It is one of few commercially grown fruits native to North
America. Cranberries were used by Native Americans as food and medicine.
Cranberries can be eaten fresh, boiled, baked in a pit, dried, canned or
in form of jams, jellies, and pies. Fresh berries are red in colour and are
Cranberries offer numerous health benefits due to their flavonoid and
phytonutrient content. They are antioxidant, antiviral, anti-tumor,
anticancer, antifungal, ACE inhibitor, lipid lowering and
anti-inflammatory. They are especially beneficial in urinary
infections. They increase good cholesterol and protects heart.
Cranberries have significant antioxidant properties and prevents body
cells from free radical damage. Cranberry products, in particular the juice,
with high concentrations of proanthocyanidin (or condensed tannins, are very
powerful antioxidants that remove harmful free oxygen radicals from cells),
reduces the risk of developing UTI. Cranberries are good support good health of
oral cavity, gastrointestinal (GI) tract and urinary tract.
In India, nowadays, Cranberry Juice is available. It not only tastes great
but also improves overall health. It is important to select only 100 % juice
product. The one which comes with added sugar tastes great but is not so good
for health owing to high sugar content.
Cranberry is a trailing, vine-like shrub with soft stems and
grow at a fast rate.
The plant has alternate small evergreen leaves with rolled edges that are
dark green above, pale beneath, and pointed at the tip. Flowers are
pink to red borne singly or in clusters at the ends of stems. The flowers
are have both male and female parts (hermaphrodite) and are
self-pollinated or insect pollinated. Plant prefer sandy and loamy soils and
prefers wet soil.
The fruit of plant is a red, juicy berry.
The botanical name of Cranberry is Vaccinium oxycoccos. It belongs to plant
Ericaceae is also known as Heath or rhododendron family. There are more
than 100 genera of this family distributed all over the world. The largest
genera of this family are Rhododendron (1200 species) and Erica (heaths, 700
species). To genus Vaccinium, berries such as blueberries, cranberries belong.
Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae (Plants)
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (Vascular plants)
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta (Seed plants)
- Division: Magnoliophyta (Flowering plants)
- Class: Magnoliopsida (Dicotyledons)
- Subclass: Dilleniidae
- Order: Ericales
- Family: Ericaceae (Heath family)
- Genus: Vaccinium L. (blueberry)
- Species: Vaccinium oxycoccos L. (small cranberry)
- Oxycoccus hagerupii
- Oxycoccus intermedius
- Oxycoccus microcarpos
- Oxycoccus ovalifolius
- Oxycoccus palustris
- Oxycoccus quadripetalus
- Oxycoccus vulgaris
Native: North America, Eurasia (combined continental landmass of
Europe and Asia)
Part (s) used: Fruits
Plant type / Growth Habit: Shrub Subshrub
Distribution: Throughout Alaska, Canada, Labrador, Greenland,
Newfoundland, England, western Washington, Oregon
Habitat: Coniferous swamps; Moist to very wet, nitrogen-poor soils and
high surface groundwater.
Propagation: Natural vegetative propagation. Also from seeds.
Vernacular names / Synonyms
Scientific name: Vaccinium oxycoccos, Vaccinium macrocarpon
English: Small cranberry, bog cranberry, swamp cranberry, wild
Constituents of Vaccinium oxycoccos
Cranberries contain Catechin, flavone glycosides, fructose, organic acids,
proanthocyanidins and vitamin C.
Cranberry has a high Flavonols content (100–263 mg/kg) compared to
other fruits. Flavonols are a class of flavonoids. They are
phytochemicals present in plants and provide several health benefits owing to
richness in medicinal properties such as antiviral, antibacterial,
anti-inflammatory, antioxidant etc.
Cranberry also contain Citric, malic and benzoic acids.
Important Medicinal Properties
Cranberry is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these
properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the
conditions in which we should avoid it.
Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.
- ACE inhibitor: Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors) that block the conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II, used in the treatment of hypertension.
- Antioxidant: Significantly delays or prevents oxidation by destroying free radicals.
- Antiviral: Destroys viruses or suppresses their replication
- Antifungal: Destroys fungi or suppresses their growth/reproduction
- Anti-inflammatory: Helps to counter the inflammatory process
- Bacteriostatic: Stops bacteria from reproducing.
- Chemo protective: Protect healthy tissue from the toxic effects of anticancer drugs
- Diuretic: Increase passing of urine
Nutrition of Cranberries (100 gram fresh, whole; 45 Calories Glycemic Index:
Daily Required Value
Health Benefits of Cranberry Juice
Cranberries are highly nutritious. They contain vitamin C, Vitamin E,
Vitamin K along with Manganese, Cooper, pantothenic acid and fiber. This
combination is very beneficial for health.
Vitamin C and E are antioxidant. Vitamin C, water soluble vitamin helps in
absorption of iron and boosts body immunity. Vitamin K, fat-soluble vitamin,
helps in blood clotting. It is opposite in effect of blood thinning
Manganese is a component of a number of enzymes and activates a range
of others. Low level of manganese in body can cause skeletal malformations, and
impaired growth and reproductive function.
Cranberries are excellent for kidney, urethra, and bladder disorders.
They are intestinal and urinary antiseptic.
Cranberry improve urinary tract health by lowering the pH of the urinary
tract. They are highly acidic and prevents growth of
bacteria in urinary tract.
Cranberry juice also helps in urinary tract infections as it contain
proanthocyanidin or condensed tannins which prevent adhesion of bacteria in
tract. This allows flushing of bacteria out of the body along with urine.
Regular drinking of juice for one or more month reduces UTIs episodes.
Researches indicate it can be used as an adjunctive treatment in UTI.
Cranberries have more antioxidant activity compared to other fruits. It
contains Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
Antioxidants are those substance which prevent oxidation or reactions
promoted by oxygen, peroxides, or free radicals. Free radicals are formed in
body either from normal metabolic processes or by exposure to external sources
(X-rays, ozone, cigarette smoking, chemicals, pollution etc.). Free radicals are
highly reactive and can attack the healthy cells of the body, causing them to
lose their structure and function. Damage to cells leads to premature ageing
and development and progression of many diseases.
Intake of potent antioxidants, such as Cranberry helps to maintain normal
functioning and integrity of cells and thus delaying the ageing process and
keeping good health. The free radical scavenging activity of Cranberry is
comparable or superior to that of vitamin E, another antioxidant.
Drinking of cranberry juice increases plasma antioxidant status.
Good for heart
Cranberries reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-oxidation, maintain or
improve high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, reducing platelet aggregation and
improve vascular function.
A small study of 30 abdominally obese, healthy, middle-aged men who consumed
increasing doses of cranberry juice, up to 500 mL/day over 12 weeks, found a
significant reduction in plasma matrix metalloproteinase-9, a substance which
can accelerate atherosclerotic (deposition of fatty material on inner walls of
Cranberry prevents the growth and proliferation of several types of tumor
or abnormal growth of cells in body due to its high bioflavonoid content
and antioxidant properties.
- Cranberries are good for overall health. They provide vitamin C, energy, antioxidants, and minerals.
- Cranberry juice prevents tooth decay due to presence of proanthocyanidin which prevent adhesion of bacteria to teeth. Inhibition of bacterial growth also protects gums from bacterial diseases.
- Cranberries are effective in prevention of recurrent cold, cough, respiratory and ear infections due to presence of immunity boosting, antioxidant and other important phytochemicals.
- Intake of Cranberry cures vitamin C deficiency.
- Cranberry contains vitamins and is good for skin.
- Antioxidant effect of Cranberry is on whole body.
Dose of Cranberry Juice
- Cranberry can be taken in dose of 120–400 ml daily by adults or 15 mL/kg or up to 300 mL daily by children.
- For recurrent UTIs the juice should be taken continuously for 4–8 weeks.
- As Cranberry is sour in taste, you may dilute it by adding water.
- Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings
- Opt only for 100 percent juice without added sugar and sweeteners.
- Commercially available Cranberry juice contains high amount of sugar and hence should not be taken by diabetics.
- In case the symptoms of UTI become more severe after taking juice medical advice is recommended.
- Cranberries contain oxalates and calcium. So person at the risk of oxalate kidney stones should take it cautiously. Cranberry juice can increase level of oxalate in urine by 43 percent.
- At high doses (more than three liters), gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhea can occur.
- Cranberries are hot in potency.
- People who take anticoagulant / blood thinning medicines (Warfarin, to prevent the formation of blood clots in the blood) should take Cranberries cautiously. As it may affect efficacy and safety of anticoagulant medicines in body.
- People taking blood-thinning medicines and prescribed Aspirin, should not drink too much Cranberry juice.