Cranberry as a powerful antioxidant: medicinal properties, use and action

Cranberry as a powerful antioxidant: medicinal properties, use and action

Cranberry as a powerful antioxidant: medicinal properties, use and action

Cranberry is a name that includes several species of evergreen shrubs of the genus Vaccinium, family Ericaceae, of which the most common are American (Vaccinium macrocarpon) and European cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea). The fruit of the cranberry is a red hard berry with a sour taste. It can be found in the colder parts of the northern hemisphere, and in our country it grows in Gorski kotar and Lika. It is very resistant to cold, it can withstand temperatures down to -40 ° C.

Cranberries are grown in areas with colder climates, and require moist, acidic soil to grow. It is mostly grown in North America – Canada and the United States produce as much as 98% of total world production.

Medicinal properties of cranberries

Cranberry is a healthy low-calorie food, rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, among which vitamins C, A, E, minerals calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron dominate. It is rich in antioxidants, which owe strong healing properties. It has antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and diuretic effects.

Cranberries are attributed many medicinal properties if applied in the correct form and in the appropriate dose:

helps with urinary tract infections
helps with edema
protects against gum disease
reduces the risk of cancer
strengthens immunity, microbiological flora of the stomach and intestines
helps with dyspepsia, especially caused by Helicobacter pylori
helps prevent cardiovascular disease
lowers cholesterol levels
positively affects eye health
helps with rheumatism and gout
lowers blood sugar levels
improves the quality of hair, skin, nails

Despite all these medicinal properties, with the use of cranberry products should be careful. At higher concentrations cranberries have side effects for patients with kidney stones. Due to the higher concentration of oxalate, it can also have a laxative effect. Patients on warfarin therapy, people very sensitive to salicylates, and people using drugs to treat prostate and urinary obstruction should be careful.

Use and action of cranberries

The healing parts of the cranberry are the fruit and the leaf. Cranberry fruit is more often used, which contains proanthocyanidins (PAC), anthocyanins, flavonoids, catechins, organic acids, carbohydrates (fructose and dextrose), tannins. The most commonly mentioned positive effect in the treatment of bladder infection. Proanthocyanidins have the strongest effect, preventing bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall and acting on the bacterial biofilm.

For better effect in the treatment of bladder infections, standardized cranberry extracts containing significant concentrations of proanthocyanidins are recommended. Cranberry supplements have been shown to be successful because they can reduce the need for frequent antibiotic therapy in the treatment of recurrent urinary tract infections and thus reduce side effects such as vaginal candidiasis.

Cranberry is a powerful antioxidant

Many in vitro and in vivo studies prove that the cranberry plant is rich in many antioxidants, which is why it is attributed positive effects, in addition to the most well-known one related to urinary tract infections. The already mentioned phenolic glycosides and anthocyanins protect against the enhanced effect of lipoprotein oxidase. Flavonoids and organic acids reduce the oxidation of LDL which is most reflected on the cardiovascular system. It has a positive effect on metabolism and the immune system due to the high dose of antioxidants.

Cranberry tea and juice

Cranberry leaf is most commonly used for tea, but a mixture of leaves and fruit can also be found. Cranberry leaf tea has primarily uroantiseptic properties, due to the higher concentration of phenolic glycosides. Cranberry tea contains a lower concentration of tannins, so it can be used by children, not younger than 12 years. The tea is prepared by pouring one teaspoon with 2.5 dl of boiling water, leaving it covered for up to 15 minutes, then straining it and drinking it up to three times a day.

The inhibitory effect of cranberry juice on bacterial adhesion has been studied for more than 30 years for the purpose of potential application in the treatment of urinary tract diseases. Caution is required in people who have a predisposition to develop calculus, larger amounts of juice can result in a laxative effect. Caution is, of course, also needed for diabetics. It is best to prepare fresh cranberry juice by mixing well-washed and selected ripe berries and adding a small amount of water to them. It is important that the purchased cranberry juices contain as much cranberry fruit and as little sugar as possible.

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