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Cranberry Juice Is Good For Your Heart


You can drink to good heart health when you include cranberry juice in your diet, according to new research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Investigators found that cranberry juice improves arterial stiffness, which is an important measure of vascular function related to cardiovascular health.

Cranberry juice offers several health benefits

Although cranberry juice is often associated with helping to prevent urinary tract infections, two new studies suggest it may also help some heart-related functions. Both studies involved use of a beverage that contained twice the amount of cranberry juice found in commercially available products as well as higher levels of anthocyanins, beneficial nutrients in cranberry juice.

The first study was a pilot that included 15 subjects, all of whom consumed 480 milliliters of cranberry juice. Compared with before drinking the cranberry juice, the researchers observed an improvement in brachial artery flow-mediated dilation and in digital pulse amplitude tonometry ratio four hours after drinking the juice.

In the placebo-controlled, cross-over study that followed, 44 patients who had coronary artery disease also consumed the cranberry juice. Although the researchers did not observe the same changes seen in the pilot study, they did document a reduction in carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, which is a measure of arterial stiffness.

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The double-strength cranberry juice used in the study contained 835 mg of total polyphenols and 94 mg of anthocyanins, phytonutrients associated with the improvement seen in arterial stiffness. Anthocyanins are pigments found in red/purple fruits and vegetables such as cranberries, purple cabbage, beets, cherries, blueberries, and raspberries.

Scientists have identified more than 500 different anthocyanins. These substances belong to the family called flavonoids, and they are known to possess potent antioxidant properties. Cranberries are also good sources of vitamin C, fiber, and manganese.

According to the researchers, who worked under the lead of Joe Vita, MD, of Boston University, “we did observe a highly significant effect of cranberry juice on stiffness of the central aorta, which is increasingly recognized as an important measure of vascular function with relevance to cardiovascular disease.”

Although the researchers pointed out that additional studies are necessary to identify how cranberry juice reduces central aortic stiffness, “our results may provide further support for the American Heart Association recommendation that cardiovascular disease risk may be reduced by a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, including cranberries.”

Dohadwala MM et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011; doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.004242