In praise of the humble cranberry

Tara Ali
August 4, 2016

You might think of cranberries as something you eat once a year in sauce with your Christmas turkey. Or maybe you’ve chugged it in juice to help with a urinary tract infection (UTI). But the tart-tasting bright red berry has a lot more going for it.

Cranberries are super high in antioxidants, especially vitamin C and five types of phytonutrients, which are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

There is also some evidence to link cranberry consumption with improved vascular function and blood pressure.


[Don’t] feel the burn

And yes there’s the cranberry’s role in helping with UTI’s. “Cranberries support urinary tract health by helping in the relief of itching and burning of the urinary tract and relieving frequent urination. Continuous consumption of cranberries may reduce the frequency of recurrent UTIs,” says Sherree Banh, nutritionist at Swisse.

A study published this year in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that in some instances taking cranberry capsules can be an ever better way of lowering the risk of UTIs, possibly because capsules mean you’re ingesting a much higher volume of the active ingredient.

And it’s not just women who benefit, says Banh. “Although not as common as women, men can also experience UTI symptoms such as burning and frequent urination. Cranberries have the same benefits for men as they do for women.” Cranberries work by helping prevent the adhesion of bacteria, such as E.Coli, to the urinary tract wall so that it gets flushed out with the urine so that no infection can occur.

While most UTIs are treated by antibiotics, the active ingredient in cranberry (A-type proanthocyanidins or PACs) can help reduce the frequency of infection in the first place by interfering with the bacteria’s ability to bind to the wall of the urinary tract and create an infection.