By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
November 16, 2016
- The little red berries are good for your heart
- Give your immune system a boost
- What about urinary tract infections?
There’s one Thanksgiving Day food that completely dumbfounds me. It’s that wobbly mass of cranberry sauce that comes out of a can…. completely intact with the ridges still on it.For some reason, folks love the stuff. Maybe it’s because of the sugar rush they get when they eat it. After all, a single serving of the most popular cranberry sauce here in the U.S. has enough high fructose corn syrup in it to fulfill your daily sugar intake.
At the same time, it has no nutritional value whatsoever.
This is a shame, because cranberries are ultimately a very healthy food.
This is especially true when it comes to your heart health. And it’s not just because cranberries can improve your LDL and HDL levels. There’s another factor that’s much more important.
Just a single cup of cranberry juice everyday can significantly decrease levels of a protein that’s bad news for your heart. It’s called Apolipoprotein B (ApoB).
Higher concentrations of ApoB in your blood can increase the number of small, dense LDL particles circulating through your body. These are the worst kind of LDL. They’re the ones that cause plaque to build up in your blood vessels and create blockages.
Other factors that contribute to the formation of these deadly LDL particles include high blood sugar and excessive levels of c-reactive protein (CRP).
Well, cranberry juice works to decrease all of these inflammatory factors and help to keep your LDL particles large and harmless.
To top it off, cranberry extracts also work to lower blood pressure and protect the delicate inner lining of your blood vessels.
Give Your Gut a Boost
Part of the reason cranberries work so well to protect your heart is their positive effect on your gut microbiota.
Now, this is something I talk about a lot. Your gut is the root of so many health issues. It’s where the bulk of your immune system lies. And when it gets thrown out of balance, it can lead to multiple health problems.
If your gut is overrun with unhealthy bacteria, it can contribute to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, bowel problems, reduced brain function and many other health concerns.
Well, it turns out that the natural compounds found in cranberries could strengthen the defense system in your gut.
The magic comes from a type of flavonoid found in cranberries, called proanthocyanidins. In effect, these compounds stop unhealthy bacteria from sticking together and setting up house in your gut.
This, in turn, may provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities that boost your cardiovascular health, metabolism and immune function.
What about Urinary Tract Infections?
Many women swear by cranberry juice or capsules when it comes to urinary tract infection (UTIs).
However, a study published last month rocked this belief on its heels. It found that high concentration cranberry capsules did nothing to prevent UTIs in older women confined to nursing homes.
On the other hand, this isn’t the only study ever conducted on cranberries and UTIs. There’s plenty of research that comes to exactly the opposite conclusion.
So it’s important to note that something as simple as a lack of hydration, incontinence or poor compliance can skew results considerably. The authors of the current study even explain that these might be some of the reasons why their study outcomes were negative.
That being said, if cranberries have worked for you to keep urinary tract infections at bay in the past, there’s no reason not to continue using cranberry juice, powder or capsules as a preventive measure.
In the meantime, don’t save cranberries for Thanksgiving… and don’t settle on a jiggly red mass of cranberry sauce that comes out of a can. Make your own cranberry sauce this year. Add cranberries to your salads, yogurt or smoothies.
Look for ones that are organic. And if you buy cranberry juice, be sure to select one that doesn’t have a lot of added sugar. If the tartness is too much for you, you can always take a cranberry extract to get the same health benefits.
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