Cranberries are well-known for their ability to relieve urinary tract infections and reduce inflammation, but did you know that they are also good for vascular health? A new study suggests that consuming whole cranberry powder can support healthy blood flow by mediating artery dilation.
This is just another study indicating that cranberry consumption improves health health and serves as a meaningful natural remedy in your medicine cabinet.
Study Findings: Daily Cranberry Consumption Improves Heart Health
A double-blind, randomized, controlled trial published in Food & Function last month investigated the vascular effects of freeze-dried whole cranberry consumption in healthy men.
The trial involved 45 healthy male adults who were randomly allocated to one month daily consumption of either cranberry (nine grams of cranberry powder in water, providing 525 milligrams total polyphenols) or a control, providing powder with zero polyphenols. Tests on flow-mediated dilation, heart rate, blood pressure, blood lipids and blood glucose were measured at baseline on day one and after one month of consumption.
Researchers found that cranberry consumption significantly increased flow-mediated dilation, or the widening of arteries when blood flow increases. They also noted an increase in plasma and urine polyphenol metabolites.
Although there were no significant changes reported for heart rate and blood pressure, the trial concluded that acute and daily consumption of whole cranberry powder for one month can improve vascular function in healthy men and improve specific metabolite profiles in plasma.
Other Cranberry Benefits
Cranberries are one of the top antioxidant foods, and they contain an impressive collection of phytonutrients, including quercetin and anthocyanins. They are also a good source of vitamin C, manganese and other micronutrients.
In addition to their positive effects on vascular health, other cranberry benefits include:
- Preventing and relieving UTIs
- Reducing inflammation
- Fighting free radical damage
- Reducing the risk of certain cancers, including breast, lung, colon and prostate cancer
- Boosting immune system function
- Relieving digestive complaints
- Reducing bloating
- Reducing blood pressure
- Increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol
How to Consume More Cranberries
Because cranberries are used as a natural remedy for a number of health concerns, they are available in many forms, including as capsules, tablets, powders and extracts. If you’re supplementing with these types of products, follow the label directions for best use.
Beyond cranberry supplements, you can easily include the tart fruit into several recipes, including both savory and sweet dishes. They can be eaten raw, cooked or in dried form. Add them to salads, trail mix, cereals, oatmeal and smoothies.
Some of the best cranberry recipes include:
- Cranberry apple cider, which also includes orange, cinnamon and ginger for a warming and healthy beverage
- Pear cranberry salad made with a dijon mustard dressing and goat cheese
- Cranberry sauce with pecans, cinnamon and maple syrup
Other Heart Tips
Dietary and lifestyle changes will certainly work to boost heart health and reduce the risk cardiovascular-related issues. Here are some simple tips to get you on the right path to optimal heart health:
- Eat a balanced diet. Opt for healthy, anti-inflammatory foods, and reduce your consumption of sugary, processed and packaged foods. Some of the best choices include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs and high-quality, organic meats.
- Exercise regularly. Moving your body regularly and getting your blood pumping supports cardiovascular health.
- Reduce stress. Chronic stress leads to increased cortisol levels, which can cause inflammation and heart-related issues.
- Get enough sleep. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep every night for optimal health.
- Don’t smoke. Research shows that smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease.
- Use supplements. Heart-healthy supplements include omega-3 fish oil, coenzyme Q10, curcumin and garlic.
- A double-blind, randomized, controlled trial published in Food & Function last month investigated the vascular effects of freeze-dried whole cranberry consumption in healthy men.
- Researchers found that consuming cranberry powder increased flow-mediated dilation, or the widening of arteries when blood flow increases. They also noted an increase in plasma and urine polyphenol metabolites.
- In addition to its benefits for vascular health, eating cranberries is also great for immune system function, preventing or treating UTIs, reducing inflammation and fighting free radical damage.