|This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2012)|
Cranberry juice is the juice of the cranberry. The term, used on its own, usually refers to a sweetened version. Bear in mind that the information below regarding sugar content applies ONLY to sweetened versions of cranberry juice. Unsweetened juice is available at many grocery stores and contains about 70 calories per cup.
Questions about health benefits
Parents have long considered cranberry juice a healthy choice for their children; however, new information about the high sugar content in cranberry juice is emerging and causing concern. A laboratory study found that when fructose is present as children’s fat cells mature, it makes more of these cells mature into fat cells in body fat, contributing to overweight, obesity and subsequently related health issues such as diabetes, higher cholesterol, and higher blood pressure. Cranberry Juice available at grocery stores is one of the highest sugar content items across all items carried in any grocery store. An 8-ounce glass of cranberry juice has more sugar than a can of soda at 33 grams. According to info gathered by HealthScience.net, new information and research on cranberry juice suggests the beverage is not as healthy as once considered, and in many cases may be worse for you than soft drinks and sodas considering cranberry juice is higher in sugar and calories. However, this is debatable considering soft drinks often contain caffeine, another controversial ingredient that has both positive and negative characteristics.
Ways to use cranberry juice
Cranberry juice cocktail is sometimes used as a mixer with alcoholic drinks such as a Cosmopolitan, a Cape Codder (1+1/2 ounces of vodka to 4 ounces cranberry juice) or non-alcoholic drinks such as the Bog Grog (2 parts Chelmsford ginger ale [or regular ginger ale] to 3 parts cranberry juice). As a pure juice, it is quite tart; as with lime juice, it is seldom drunk on its own. Due to its tartness, it is often combined it with sweeter juices, such as apple or grape. Another solution is to dilute it with water and add some natural sweetener, such as xylitol.
Potential health effects
- Some preparations, particularly tablets, may be high in oxalate; a study using tablets suggested they could increase the risk of developing kidney stones, whereas a more recent study indicated that juice may lower the risk. It is important to note that traditional cranberry juice contains no seeds and little skin due to the filtering which takes place after quickly heating the fruit, thereby offering a possible explanation to the fact that the juice may reduce oxalate stone formation (tablets may contain the whole cranberry, including seeds and skin, and the oxalate content in high-oxalate plants is generally concentrated in seeds and skin).
Many commercial producers of, and some home recipes for, cranberry juice add levels of sugar which are harmful and only serve to make it more palatable to people who are used to sweetened drinks. Note: Freshly prepared pure cranberry juice with no added sugar is not bitter if the traditional "heat to pop" method is used (due to heating during preparation) and can be made milder in flavour by adding further water and/or restricted amounts of sugar or syrup. However, the bitter flavour of commercially cold pressed cranberry juice is generally found to be unpalatable and rarely states the pulp content (pulp may contain high oxalate seeds and skin). Research is needed to determine the relative health benefits of filtered juice from heated cranberries (showing the effects of different levels of heating) as compared with filtered cold pressed cranberry juice - one of the big questions being: Does heat denaturing of vitamins and other cranberry compounds result in a significant or an insignificant reduction in their concentration and/or does it benefit the nutritional accessibility of certain health promoting compounds (as with tomatoes)?
Cranberry juice and urinary tract infection
||This section needs more medical references for verification or relies too heavily on primary sources. (July 2013)|
Cranberry juice may help prevent and relieve the symptoms of urinary tract infections (UTIs) by primary and secondary means. The primary means works on the bacteria directly by altering the molecular structure of the fimbriae on the pathogenic strains of the bacteria that cause the infections. The properties of the proanthocyanidins in cranberries prevents the bacteria from adhering to the surface of the bladder and urinary tract. The secondary means works indirectly on the bacteria by changing the intravesical pH (the pH of the bladder's contents) making it more acidic.[medical citation needed]
However, results from recent randomized controlled trials have been disappointing. A trial of 319 college women with an acute UTI, failed to show that drinking cranberry juice (8 oz of 27% twice daily) would reduce the incidence of a second UTI. Another study performed in the Netherlands randomised 221 women to receive either co-trimoxazole or cranberry capsules. That study found that the antibiotics were superior to cranberry capsules, but were associated with an increase in antibiotic resistance. However, in an accompanying editorial, the dose of cranberries used in the study was criticised for being too low.
A more recent study led by the University of Stirling in the U.K., shows the UTI benefits have been overhyped, and suggests there may not be much benefit from cranberry juice at all. Results from a review of 24 studies with a research sample of nearly 5,000 people suggest that cranberry juice may only be helpful in a select few women. For those select few, cranberry extract pills are recommended in lieu of cranberry juice due to the high sugar content in cranberry juice [unreliable medical source?] However, this non-medically referenced study appears to have failed to use cranberry juice and instead used commercial mixtures of cranberry juice and sugar, wherein the added refined sugar/s could have promoted growth of infectious bacteria, thus counteracting the antibiotic efficacy of the cranberry juice component of the drink.
1cup of cranberry juice (253 mL) contains the following nutritional information according to the USDA:
- Calories: sweetened -116; unsweetened - 70
- Fat: sweetened - 0.33 grams; unsweetened - 0.0 grams
- Carbohydrates: sweetened - 30.87 grams; unsweetened - 18 grams
- Fibers: 0.3 grams
- Protein: 0.99 grams
- Cholesterol: 0
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