By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
August 23, 2019
I just love cranberry sauce.
And not just at Thanksgiving. I love it year round. In fact, I go to Trader Joe’s in the fall and buy two whole cases of the stuff to last me the year.
Mix in some orange and lemon zest… I just love it!
Now let’s be clear. I am not talking about that Ocean Spray large, loose jelly monster that comes out of a can… completely intact with ridges still on it.
For some reason, folks love that 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 cholesterol 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 cholesterol. They’re the ones that cause plaque to build up in your blood vessels and create blockages.
Well, cranberry juice works to decrease inflammatory factors and helps 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. An unhealthy poorly functioning gut is the root of so many health issues. It’s where the bulk of your immune system lies – 70% in fact!
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 including yeast overgrowth and the problems that causes.
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 a colony (or biofilm) in your gut to settle in and grow.
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).
I actually recommend that people who have a history of chronic urinary tract infections take a concentrated cranberry supplement with d-mannose. 90% or so of these infections are often due to E.coli bacteria, which d-mannose blocks from attaching to your bladder wall and forming their own protective biofilm to hide in and multiply.
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 or dilute with sparkling water for a healthy way to hydrate.
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