6 Spectacular Health Benefits of Cranberry Supplements

The underrated cranberry catapults us into good health!

The best things in life come in small packages and the tiny, mighty cranberry is no exception. Yet, there is no other supplement quite as pigeonholed for its role in supporting health. Just read the word “cranberry” and you immediately think “urinary tract infections,” right? It’s a label cranberry may never be able to shake, but we need to break the typecast so that we can reap the full health benefits that cranberry provides. From heart health to blood sugar balance, healthy weight maintenance to gut wellbeing, brain function to immune and respiratory health, to mouth and tooth health, to even combating certain types of cancer, it really can do wonders for our wellness. It’s just a matter of opening a bottle of cranberry supplements, chews, or powder and making it a part of your daily supplement routine. It’s the little cranberry that can transform your health in a really big way.


6 Spectacular Health Benefits of Cranberry Supplements

A New Way to Tend Your Ticker

Heart IllustrationCranberries are rich in a variety of phytonutrients including proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, and flavonols, and contain concentrations of other health-promoting phytonutrients rarely found in other foods. Together, these compounds exert powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in the body.1 When it comes to cardiovascular health, cranberry may be the underdog that’s comparable to fish oil, CoQ10, vitamin D, and magnesium.

A 2022 double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that taking 9 grams of freeze-dried cranberry powder daily for one month (equivalent to about one cup of fresh cranberries) resulted in significant improvements in heart and blood vessel function, and ultimately helped reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those taking a placebo.2 3 The study summarized, “Those consuming cranberry had a significant improvement in flow-mediated dilation (FMD), which signals improvement of heart and blood vessel function. FMD is considered a sensitive biomarker of cardiovascular disease risk and measures how blood vessels widen when blood flow increases.”4

Furthermore, Dr. Ana Rodriguez-Mateos, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition at the Department of Nutritional Sciences at King's College London and senior author of the study, said "The increases in polyphenols and metabolites in the bloodstream, and the related improvements in flow-mediated dilation (FMD) after cranberry consumption, emphasize the important role cranberries may play in cardiovascular disease prevention.”5 6

Blood Sugar Out of Control? Cranberry Steps Up to the Challenge

Illustration of blood sugar readerThere are a lot of factors to blame when it comes to our blood sugar being out of whack (a lack of fruits and vegetables and quality protein in the diet, too much sugar, refined carbs, and processed foods, and a sedentary lifestyle) which can ultimately lead to age-related diseases, obesity, and type-2 diabetes. But, where excess sugar in the bloodstream is our foe, cranberry supplementation is our friend. In fact, studies show that cranberry powder has beneficial effects on diabetic-related metabolic conditions, including lipid profiles, serum insulin and glucose levels, insulin resistance, as well as biomarkers of oxidative stress.7

The declining function of pancreatic beta-cells (β-cells)—the cells in the pancreas responsible for making and secreting insulin—as we age can negatively affect how our body responds to glucose. Preserving the health of these cells helps maintain healthy glucose balance and can offer significant protection against type-2 diabetes.8 9 In a study to evaluate the effectiveness of a cranberry-rich diet on the aging of pancreatic beta-cells, 24 aging rats consumed a diet that was supplemented with 2% cranberry powder or a standard, cranberry-free diet for 16 months (the equivalent of 12 grams daily for a 154-pound human).10 11 The rats fed the cranberry-supplemented diet showed a delayed decline in β-cell function and improved β-cell glucose responsiveness compared to the rats on the standard diet. This slowing down of the decline of β -cell function by means of cranberry supplementation is promising for protecting against type-2 diabetes.

Cultivate Gut, Liver, & Metabolic Health with Cranberry

Illustration of liver healthIn another study, researchers sought to determine if cranberry extract could reverse obesity and its associated metabolic disorders, such as fatty liver, in diet-induced obese mice. Mice were given a high-fat, high-sucrose diet for 13 weeks to induce obesity, and then were fed the high-fat, high-sucrose diet plus cranberry extract for eight weeks (the dose was equivalent to about 1 gram/day for a 154-pound human). After eight weeks, the cranberry extract had fully reversed fatty liver in the mice and reduced liver inflammation, as well as improved glucose tolerance and normalized insulin sensitivity.12

In the same study, the cranberry extract also triggered a bloom of a species of gut bacteria called Akkermansia muciniphila (A. muciniphila), which has been strongly correlated with healthy and lean bodies. In fact, a 12-week study showed that A. muciniphila was inversely related to fasting glucose, waist-to-hip ratio, and subcutaneous adipocyte diameter (the fat between your skin and muscles). Subjects with higher A. muciniphila abundance in the gut exhibited the healthiest metabolic status, particularly in fasting glucose, triglycerides, and body fat distribution.13 14

Polyphenols, like those found in cranberry, have the potential to increase growth of this special bacteria that studies show has a direct association with better glycemic control, as well as a marked decrease in fat mass and healthy metabolic function, improved intestinal barrier (leaky gut), and mucus layer thickness. In summary, “Cranberry extract can fully reverse a high fat-high sucrose, diet-induced insulin resistance and fatty liver, while triggering A. muciniphila blooming in the gut microbiota, thus underscoring the gut-liver axis as a primary target of cranberry polyphenols.”15 16 17 18

Cranberry Helps Keep Your GI Tract Intact

Illustration of GI tractThe inner lining of the gastrointestinal tract (the intestinal epithelium) acts as a barrier that protects the body from potentially toxic substances that move through the GI tract. The phytochemicals in cranberry provide protection to this important lining. Cranberry supports production of secretory IgA (SIgA), a key component of the gut’s mucosal lining, which serves as the first line of defense in protecting the intestinal epithelium from toxins and pathogenic microorganisms.19  Cranberry proanthocyanidins also interfere with colonization of the gut by pathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli) and reduce gut-barrier dysfunction caused by a diet high in processed carbohydrates, added sugar, and even nutrient deprivation.20

Studies have repeatedly identified polyphenol-rich compounds as promoters of gut microbial diversity.21 22 A 2022 study illustrated the synergy between cranberry’s proanthocyanidins and gut microbiota: Over a three-week period, a freeze-dried cranberry powder was shown to enhance short-chain fatty acid production (used by intestinal epithelial cells as an energy source) and lower the abundance of pathogenic bacteria.23 24 25

Cranberry Benefits to Sink Your Teeth Into

A surprising health benefit of drinking cranberry juice, taking cranberry chews, or even using cranberry-infused floss is its ability to prevent cavities and periodontal (gum) disease. Exposing the mouth and teeth directly to the bioactives in cranberry ensures its anti-adhesive and anti-microbial properties are directly felt on the teeth themselves. In fact, the phenomenal polyphenol compounds in cranberry inhibit the production of organic acids and the formation of cavity-producing bacteria, such as Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus.33  Additionally, cranberry polyphenols may reduce inflammation, as well as the production and activity of enzymes contributing to the destruction of the extracellular matrix in gum disease.34

The Very “Brainy” Cranberry

Illustration of brain healthWhy is it a good idea to take cranberry now more than ever? Because the health of your brain depends on it! Polyphenol-rich fruits have long been recognized for their protection against age-related neurodegeneration and several studies back this up, proving that compounds in cranberry support cognitive function and brain health.

A May 2022 randomized, placebo-controlled study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition aimed to determine the impact of cranberry supplementation specifically on cognitive function in adults 50–80 years old. Dr. David Vauzour, Ph.D., leading researcher of the study and a senior research fellow in Molecular Nutrition at Norwich Medical School University of East Anglia (UK) said, “Past studies have shown that higher dietary flavonoid intake is associated with slower rates of cognitive decline and dementia. And foods rich in anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, which give berries their red, blue, or purple color, have been found to improve cognition.”26

In the study, 60 adults took either 9 grams (split into two 4.5-gram sachets) per day of cranberry powder, equivalent to a cup of fresh cranberries, or a placebo, for 12 weeks. Memory and executive function assessments, including processing speed, working memory, episodic memory, and special navigation, as well as neuroimaging and blood samples, were conducted before and after to determine the impact of cranberry consumption on cognition and brain function.

Results showed that subjects taking the cranberry powder saw “significant improvements” in memory of everyday events, neural functioning, and delivery of blood to the brain during the course of supplementation.27 28 29

Immune System Superhero

Illustration of immune healthVitamins A, C, and E are just a few of the well-known vitamins and minerals for immune health—and cranberries contain them all and more. They’re even packed with super nutrients like lutein, zeaxanthin, folate, potassium, and manganese.30 That’s a lot of superpowers in just one tiny cranberry, and they all work together to supercharge your immune system.

Studies investigating the effects of cranberry supplementation on immune health help solidify its ability to ward off cold and flu symptoms, perfect for the change in seasons and even year-round. In a randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled study, 10 weeks of consumption of a beverage containing cranberry powder resulted in a fivefold increase in the production of T-cells, a 30% increase in natural killer (NK) cell proliferation, and a 20% reduction in pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-17 secretion—all vital to the function of a healthy immune system.31

In another study, researchers discovered that cranberry extract inhibited both influenza A and B virus replication. Interestingly, the same anti-adhesive activities of cranberry against bacteria in the urinary tract, may also help it prevent viral attachment to healthy cells within the body.32 With these cutting-edge findings, cranberry is literally packing a one-two punch on the bacterial and viral fronts, making it a fantastic supplement to kick unwanted pathogens to the curb. Stay well year-round and seasonally with cranberry!

Wherever you are on your journey to health, cranberry can help catapult you into the best version of yourself. It might just be the tiny, mighty cranberry that could.

Cancer + Cranberry… A Dose of Hope?

Data from preclinical studies show that cranberry-derived constituents, such as ursolic acid and proanthocyanidins successfully decrease cancer cell density, viability, proliferation, adhesion, inflammation, and oxidative stress.35 In fact, a significant amount of research shows cranberry inhibits the growth of 17 different cancers, including breast, colon, cervical, glioblastoma, leukemia, lung, melanoma, oral cavity, prostate, ovarian, esophageal, and renal cancer cell lines.36 37 38 39 40 When investigating cranberry and colon cancer, for example, researchers wrote, “several cranberry extracts inhibit the viability of colon cancer cell lines, including an organic-soluble cranberry extract, cranberry juice extract, cranberry proanthocyanidins, a flavonoid-rich fraction, a total polyphenolic fraction, and ursolic acid.”41 42 43 44 45 46


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