Cardiovascular disease remains the number one health threat affecting men and women in US today. Now, a recent review of scientific research suggests cranberries may offer a natural defense against the development of this dangerous disease. Researchers feel that many of these results are due to the fact that cranberries contain a greater concentration of antioxidants than other commonly consumed fruit and that these nutrients may be working together to offer even greater benefits.
The report conducted at Tufts University, and published in Nutrition Reviews, found that cranberries offered a range of different benefits that work to promote cardiovascular health. These benefits include effects on cholesterol as well as on blood pressure and the development of blood clots, all established risk factors for heart disease.
"Cranberries have long been recognized for their health benefits in the areas of urinary tract, gastrointestinal and oral health," said Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, FACN, CNS. "Now, after years of research in the cardiovascular area, cranberries also appear to play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease."
Several of the studies reviewed showed that cranberry juice increased circulating levels of the "good" HDL cholesterol. In fact, one such study revealed that a daily serving of Light Cranberry Juice Cocktail provided an effect that was similar to what has been reported for red wine, a beverage that has been well publicized for having a positive effect on cardiovascular health.
In addition to an increase in HDL, another study highlighted in the review reported that cranberry lowered the "bad" LDL cholesterol when consumed in increasing amounts over a period of weeks. Cranberry has also been found to inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, an effect that has been shown to further reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. Experimental evidence also suggests cranberries may act to reduce the formation of blood clots as well as blood pressure, actions known to lower the risk of stroke.