~ 070508 Study Finds Cranberry may be a Superior Antioxidant Source

A study conducted at the University of Scranton and published online by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry on June 18 found that Cranberries may provide an excellent source of high-quality dietary antioxidants.

Ten subjects fasted overnight before consuming 240 ml of a juice drink containing high fructose corn syrup and ascorbate, with or without cranberry juice antioxidants. Plasma antioxidant capacity, glucose, triglycerides, and ascorbate were measured 6 times over 7 hours after consumption of the juice drink. The control group was found to have a slightly decreased plasma antioxidant capacity for each time period, suggesting oxidative stress in spite of the inclusion of ascorbate in the juice drink. The cranberry juice antioxidant group was found to have an increase in plasma antioxidant capacity that was significantly greater than the control for each time period.

Postprandial triglycerides, due to fructose in the beverages, were mainly responsible for the oxidative stress and significantly correlated with oxidative stress as measured by the antioxidant capacity. Researchers concluded that cranberry consumption may be an excellent source of high quality antioxidants and deserved further study Cranberry is best known as a remedy for urinary tract infections. It was first mentioned in medical literature in the 1860s. A 1993 study conducted a Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital validated the effectiveness of cranberry juice for urinary infections. Bacteria and white blood cell counts in the urine of study subjects, indicators of urinary infection, were reduced by half in women who received cranberry juice.

Control subjects were four times more likely to have a urinary infection than test subjects. The acids in cranberry juice inhibit bacterial growth and deodorize the urine, but the more significant action of cranberry is an inhibition of the ability of bacteria to adhere to the urinary tract wall, enabling the natural flushing action of urine to remove the bacteria before an infection can become established.

A 2003 study found that three glasses of cranberry juice daily improved heart health by increasing HDL and plasma antioxidant levels. While the subjects total cholesterol remained unchanged, HDL levels increased by an average of 10%, yielding a statistical reduction in heart attack risk of 40%. Plasma antioxidant levels were increased by up to 121%.

Another 2003 study found that Cranberry consumption may help reduce brain damage associated with stroke. Researchers administered a concentrated cranberry extract to rat brain cells exposed to simulated stroke conditions. Cells exposed to cranberry, roughly equivalent to a human consuming half a cup of cranberries, caused a 50% reduction in neuronal death. Control cells, not exposed to cranberry, experienced no benefit.

Cranberry may also confer chemoprotective benefits according to 2007 University of Massachusetts study. Meta-analysis of a number of in vitro studies using a variety of tumor models showed polyphenolic extracts of cranberry can inhibit the growth and proliferation of breast, colon, prostate, lung and other tumors. Among cranberry's possible chemopreventive mechanisms were induction of apoptosis in tumor cells, reduced ornithine decarboxylase activity, decreased expression of matrix metalloproteinases associated with prostate tumor metastasis, and anti-inflammatory activities including inhibition of cyclooxygenases. The reviewers concluded the results suggest a potential role for cranberry as a dietary chemopreventive and should guide future research on cranberries.

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