The health benefits of cranberries have been known for centuries. The ability of cranberries to help prevent UTI or Urinary Tract Infection has long believed to be due to its strong acidity. However recent studies have shown that it wasn’t the acidity at all but rather the unusual structure of the proanthocyanidins or (PACs).
The ‘A type’ connections that make up their components block bacteria that might otherwise attach to the urinary tract wall. The study of this effect has lead to the discovery of other health benefits of cranberries. Stomach Ulcers for example are caused by a particular type of bacteria (Helicobacter pylori) attaching itself to the stomach walls. Just as the cranberries block bacteria for attaching to the urinary tract wall, they can prevent bacteria from attaching to the stomach walls.
The early studies all show that the health benefits of cranberries extend to preventing stomach ulcers. Scientist have found in recent years that cranberries have a growing amount of mechanisms that help prevent cancer. These mechanisms include the blocking of matrix metalloproteinases or MMP’s. The inhibiting of ornithine decarboxylase enzymes or ODC’s and the production of quinone reductase enzymes. Cranberries also cause apoptosis or programmed cell death to occur in tumor cells.
The cancer preventative nature of cranberries extend to lung, breast, colon, and prostate cancer.
How Are Cranberries Harvested?
A great deal of cranberries today are water harvested. This means that they are grown in bogs and floated in water for easy pickings. Scientist have now seen that this method may increase the health benefits of cranberries. Anthocyanin, the phytonutrient that gives cranberries their delicious color is increased in direct proportion to how much sunlight hits the berries surface.
So the more sunlight, the more anthocyanin which increases the health benefits of cranberries. The phytonutrient anthocyanin has antioxidant properties as well as anti inflammatory properties. The more scientist study this wonderful fruit, the more benefits they seem to find. So don’t just wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas to enjoy it, go out and grab a bag of fresh cranberries today.