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Review Suggests Cranberries Offer a Wide Range of Health Benefits

Cranberries have long been associated with urinary tract health, but a recent review of 150 studies has found that the unique nutrition profile of cranberries may offer a number of other health benefits.

Cranberries contain A-type proanthcyandidins (PACs), whereas most other fruit contain B-type PACs. The A-type PAC appears to be the mechanism behind the anti-adhesion effects of cranberries, which can prevent harmful bacteria from attaching to cells in the body.

The researchers who conducted the review found that consuming cranberries in a variety of forms may lower blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure, inflammation and oxidative stress. They also found evidence suggesting that cranberries may help improve endothelial function and reduce arterial stiffness.

Researchers from Tufts University, Pennsylvania State University, Boston University, Rutgers University, French National Institute for Agricultural Research, University of East Anglia in the UK and the Heinrich-Heine-University in Germany conducted the review. It was published in the November 2013 issue of Advances in Nutrition.

Cranberries have anti-microbial and anti-carcinogenic properties, and are packed with beneficial vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and antioxidants. They have been shown to provide a lengthy list of health benefits including improved urological health, protection against heart disease, and inflammatory diseases. They also have been linked with lower plaque formation on teeth and improved cholesterol levels.

Cranberries have a sour taste, so people usually drink cranberry juice with added sugar. However the added sugar can be detrimental to overall health, so it is best to stick with a low-calorie version.

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