Daily cranberry consumption may lead to heart health benefits, study finds

Cranberries have well-documented benefits when it comes to improving urinary tract health and a growing body of research around gut health benefits due to their concentration of proanthocyanidins (PACs), which can help decrease bacterial adhesion to maintain healthy gut bacteria and prevent certain gut health issues, according to The Cranberry Institute​.

Now research is building around the fruit’s cardiovascular health benefits, according to a recent study funded by The Cranberry Institute, the Research Committee of the Medical Faculty of Heinrich-Heine University Dusseldorf, and the Susanne Bunnenberg Heart Foundation grant to Dusseldorf Heart Center.

Study methods and findings

The double-blind, randomized controlled trial of 45 healthy adult men, published in Food & Function​, found that men who consumed 9g of whole cranberry powder (equivalent of 100g of fresh cranberries) per day had a significant improvement in heart and blood vessel function vs. study participants who consumed a placebo for one month. 

Researchers determined improvements to heart and blood vessel function by monitoring changes to study participants’ flow-mediated dilation (FMD), which is considered a sensitive biomarker of cardiovascular disease risk and measures how blood vessels widen when blood flow increases.

An initial pilot study was completed with five healthy young men to confirm the biological activity of the whole cranberry freeze-dried powder. The pilot concluded that cranberry consumption increased FMD and confirmed dosing. The main study was used as the standard study design to then examine 45 healthy men each consuming two packets of whole cranberry freeze-dried powder equivalent to 100g or 1 cup of fresh cranberries, or a placebo, daily for one month.

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