Cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving tradition. Many people may not, however, know that nutrition scientists have been studying cranberries extensively, investigating everything from cranberries’ effect on cardiovascular health to urinary tract health to metabolic health. The results of these studies have been published in all four American Society for Nutrition (ASN) journals. Moreover, a number of these studies have attracted a great deal of interest: according to Altmetric, for example, the number two- and number three-ranked articles published in Advances in Nutrition are dedicated to cranberry research.
Below are highlighted articles investigating the health properties of cranberries from all four ASN journals.
Effect of Cranberry on Urinary Tract Infection Risk: A Meta-Analyses, Current Developments in Nutrition
Cranberries may be useful in reducing the risk of urinary tract infection recurrence in healthy, non-pregnant women and children.
Oliver Chen et al. devised and implemented a meta-analysis to evaluate the link between cranberry intake and the risk of urinary tract infection in otherwise healthy populations. Their research led them to 16 relevant studies. Upon conducting their review, the authors concluded that “cranberries may be useful in reducing the risk of uncomplicated urinary tract infection recurrence in healthy, non-pregnant women and children.” They further noted the need for more research to determine the effect of cranberries on urinary tract infection risk among pregnant women as well as generally healthy elderly and institutionalized adults before firm conclusions could be made for these populations.
Effects of Cranberry Juice Consumption on Vascular Function in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Additional studies are needed to understand the underlying mechanisms by which cranberries may support cardiovascular health.
Research suggests cranberry juice could potentially reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Seeking to learn more about the effects of cranberry juice on vascular function in subjects with coronary artery disease, Mustali M. Dohadwala et al. conducted both an acute pilot study as well as a chronic randomized crossover study. The results of their research were mixed. On the one hand, the authors noted, “a significant reduction in carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, reflecting decreased aortic stiffness.” On the other hand, they found “no chronic effect of cranberry juice on the primary endpoint of brachial artery flow-mediated dilation.” The results of the study therefore underscored the need for additional studies to fully understand the underlying mechanisms by which cranberries may support cardiovascular health.
Cranberry polyphenolic extract supplementation can provide a new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of obesity.
Polyphenolic compounds in cranberries have been found to have an anti-obesity effect; however, the reasons why remain unclear. In response, Fang Zhou et al. developed an animal model study to better understand the effects and underlying mechanisms of these polyphenolic compounds. Specifically, the authors tested the effect that cranberry polyphenolic extract had on obese mice that were fed a high-fat diet. Mice were divided into three groups and fed one of three diets for a 16-week period: a normal diet, a high-fat diet, and a high-fat diet supplemented with cranberry polyphenolic extract. The results of the study demonstrated that cranberry polyphenolic extract improves glucose metabolism and reduces body weight gain in mice fed a high-fat diet by regulating thermogenesis, the induction of white adipose tissue browning, and brown adipose tissue activation. According to the authors, this study has implications for humans. Specifically, “the results indicate that dietary cranberry polyphenolic extract supplementation can provide a new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of obesity and obesity-related disorders.”
Evidence reveals favorable effects of cranberry consumption on several measures of cardiometabolic health.
This review has the second highest Altmetric ranking among all articles published in Advances in Nutrition. In fact, it has been mentioned in more than 70 news articles. Based on the proceedings of the 2015 Cranberry Health Research Conference, the review focuses on the effect of cranberries on gut microbiota and cardiometabolic health. ASN member Jeffrey B. Blumberg et al. found that “cranberry constituents and their bioactive catabolites…contribute to mechanisms affecting bacterial adhesion, coaggregation, and biofilm formation that may underlie potential clinical benefits on gastrointestinal and urinary tract infections, as well as on systemic anti-inflammatory actions mediated via the gut microbiome.” The authors also point to a growing body of evidence that reveals favorable effects of cranberry consumption on several measures of cardiometabolic health, including serum lipid profiles, blood pressure, endothelial function, and glucoregulation.
This year, many Americans may not be able to get together with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving as they traditionally have. Nonetheless, the American Society for Nutrition wishes you all the best for this holiday, with the hope of better times to come.