Cranberry juice: a tasty, healthy drink with numerous beneficial properties, which releases all its benefits especially if we consume a homemade product with freshly picked fruit.
The blueberry is the fruit of a plant belonging to the Ericaceae family, widespread in the wooded areas of the Alps and the Apennines. The fruit is known and appreciated for its flavor and beneficial health effects. From fresh berries a tasty and nutritious drink is produced: cranberry juice is not considered like many other fruit juices, but in the collective imagination this drink appears more beneficial and healthier, also thanks to a higher cost.
In fact, cranberry juice contains several beneficial substances, which give it various benefits: among the many, the best known is the beneficial effect of cranberry juice on the well-being of the urinary tract and on reducing the risk of infections.
This drink can therefore be included in the diet of a healthy person without particular restrictions, but it is always important to dwell on the label and check that there are no ingredients that we do not expect and that we would not want to consume, such as added sugars or other fruits.
Cranberry juice: beneficial properties
Cranberry juice is a tasty and healthy drink that can be pleasantly introduced in moderation into our diet: this juice, in fact, in addition to quenching our thirst and sweetening the mouth, also provides several beneficial properties and some important nutrients. In the following lines we will be able to discover together the benefits of blueberry juice on our health and our well-being, but it must be emphasized that even greater benefits can derive from the consumption of fruit consumed fresh and during the appropriate season.
The properties of blueberry juice derive from the high content of polyphenols and in particular of anthocyanins, compounds with antioxidant activity.
Specifically, cranberry juice contains four molecules with important antioxidant capacities: vitamin C, cyanidin, quercetin and peonidin. These compounds are present in different percentages depending on the type of blueberry analyzed and the molecule with the greatest antioxidant action among those just mentioned is cyanidin. In addition to these important compounds, cranberry juice also contains other vitamins (vitamin A and some B vitamins) and some mineral salts such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium and iron. There is also pectin (a soluble fiber) and the presence of tannins.
Drinking cranberry juice is also considered useful in case of urinary tract infections. In particular, the consumption of this drink has been associated in several studies with a reduction in the levels of Escherichia coli, the bacterium responsible for many cases of cystitis.
Cranberry juice, on the other hand, has not shown the same property, but both are useful in improving different blood parameters in case of metabolic syndrome or diabetes. The consumption of cranberry juice, in fact, allows to decrease total cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol in adults, thus allowing a decrease in cardiovascular risk.
This property can also be emphasized by the use of blueberry in improving vascular disorders and blood circulation. In fact, in a 2017 review it is emphasized that several studies conducted on animals or in vitro have shown that the anthocyanins contained in blueberry are able to offer protection against cardiovascular risk thanks to their action on the vascular system. For those wishing to learn more about this aspect, we invite you to read our article: Why are blueberries good for circulation?
Its use also has beneficial effects on dementia: in this study, for example, the introduction of cranberry juice resulted in an improvement in verbal memory in cases of moderate cognitive impairment.
The antioxidant effect of this juice also appears to be useful in the prevention of skeletal damage and osteoporosis. In particular, the consumption of cranberry juice is associated with inhibition of apoptosis due to oxidative stress and reduces the activation of osteoclasts (particular cells that have the task of reabsorbing bone). According to this study, bilberry also acts as an activator of SIRT1, an enzyme that inhibits bone resorption, regardless of the activity of osteoclasts.
The consumption of blueberries is useful in decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and in bringing benefits in case of some cancers. In these cases the studies were performed using the berries and not their juice, however it is conceivable that many of the beneficial substances remain in the untreated cranberry juice.
Finally, you have all heard about the benefits that the consumption of blueberry can bring to the eyes: the presence of antioxidant molecules, in fact, seems to have protective effects – in animal studies – also on the cells of the retina, thanks to the improvement of circulation and the reduction of capillary fragility. In this sense, further studies are still needed to confirm its properties, but we invite you to deepen the subject by consulting our article: Why blueberries can promote eye health?
How much cranberry juice to drink per day to get benefits
According to some studies, such as the one presented above regarding the correlation between the consumption of cranberry juice and cardiovascular health, the benefits are the greater the greater the consumption of juice. However, beneficial effects are already reported with a daily consumption of 125 ml of fruit juice.
However, we must consider that more than one serving of fresh fruit is often required to obtain a glass of juice. The drink will also be rich in all the sugars present in fruit, but low in fiber. In some cases, moreover, other sugars are added to the preparation to make the product sweeter and, therefore, more pleasant to the taste. In this regard, we invite you to carefully read the next chapter and choose the most natural products!
A glass of cranberry juice a day can represent an excellent compromise between the benefits and the intake of simple sugars: it can for example be inserted during breakfast, as a fresh drink to start the day, or as a mid-morning or mid-morning snack. afternoon, possibly accompanied by a portion of dried fruit.
In case of glycemic problems we advise you not to drink cranberry juice a few hours after lunch or dinner: you will find the reasons at the end of the article.
Cranberry juice: how to make it at home
Summer is blueberry season and many local farms offer the chance to spend a few hours outdoors and pick berries directly from the plants. This is an excellent opportunity to stock up on the blueberries that we will need to prepare our beloved juice at home. Alternatively, you can find fresh blueberries in farmers’ markets.
The recipes for the preparation are different : in some cases it is recommended to cook the blueberries in boiling water, in other cases to blend them naturally and in others to freeze them before blending them or, again, to make the juice using an extractor. We recommend proceeding with one of the latter options, as high temperatures may result in a decrease in the amount of beneficial molecules. So let’s see two quick and easy ways to make cranberry juice at home.
1. Prepare the cranberry juice with a blender
The simplest way to prepare blueberry juice is to blend the blueberries, after having thoroughly rinsed them, with a fairly powerful hand blender, adding up to 1 teaspoon of sugar for every 300-500 g of blueberries (sufficient to produce one or two glasses of concentrated juice).
Then the cranberry juice is filtered to remove any seeds and peels and can be diluted with water and the squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon. It is also possible to use sparkling water, which will allow us to obtain a sparkling drink that is well suited to quench our thirst during the hot summer. Plus, as we mentioned earlier, you can also use frozen blueberries to make a very refreshing blueberry smoothie.
2. Prepare the cranberry juice with an extractor
Alternatively, you can make cranberry juice with an extractor. In this case, about 300/350 grams of fresh blueberries would be needed to obtain a glass of pure blueberry juice. However, as it is generally diluted with water or mixed with blueberries and other fruits, a smaller amount of berries will be sufficient.
A quick and easy recipe that you can experiment with is this: put in the extractor about 130/150 gr of blueberries and an apple, operate the extractor and then dilute to taste with water and add the juice of half a lemon. You will get about 2 glasses of homemade cranberry juice with no added sugar!
Another juicer recipe you can experiment with to make a cranberry juice is as follows: add 150g of bilberry, 150g of black grapes, 2 apples and 100g of diced beetroot. Extend with water and you will get up to 6 glasses of delicious juice.
How to choose a quality cranberry juice: buying guide
While making cranberry juice is quick and simple, many of us prefer to buy it ready-made. On the shelves of supermarkets and specialized or organic shops we will find many alternatives.
First of all it is necessary to underline that fresh juice contains many more beneficial molecules than that left on the shelves for several months and in this regard we invite you to check at least the expiration date and choose those with an expiration date further away in time.
In addition, in many cases, cranberry juice contains several other ingredients, such as added sugar or other sugary fruits, which make the juice less sour. While the taste may be more pleasant, on the other hand adding sugar could be problematic, especially if we are trying to lose weight or suffer from some metabolic problem, such as diabetes.
In many cases the added sugars are found in the form of apple juice or concentrated grape juice: even in these cases the final result is to have more simple sugars in the finished product and to also dilute the cranberry juice, thus depriving us in part of its properties.
In this regard, we always invite you to look at the label : the best products are those that contain only blueberries or blueberry puree (preferably from organic farming).
If you have time to also look at the nutritional table you will notice that products containing only blueberries will have a quantity of carbohydrates per 100 g equal to about 7-10 g, which will increase according to any sugar additions or sugary foods.
Finally, we advise you to pay attention to the presence of any food additives, indicated mainly at the end of the list of ingredients with their name or the abbreviation consisting of the letter E and three numbers: prefer products that do not contain them at all!
As for the cost, cranberry juice is one of the most expensive juices as this fruit is not very easy to find. Some products available at the supermarket have a cost of about 10 USD/ l; the cost can go up to 4-5 times the one just indicated. Keep in mind, however, that if you choose concentrated products they can eventually be diluted with water and be equally tasty!
Contraindications of cranberry juice
There are no particular contraindications regarding the intake of cranberry juice: it is generally safe and it is also possible to drink cranberry juice during pregnancy (always in moderation). In this case we renew the invitation to pay attention to additives (including sweeteners): to be avoided!
Cases of blueberry allergy are also rare, but if you suspect an allergy to this fruit or similar fruits, it is good to be careful and share your choices with the referring doctor.
We also underline that, as indicated in the chapter on properties, the consumption of this juice could have hypoglycemic effects. It is therefore considered useful, especially for those with insulin resistance problems or diabetes not well compensated and suffering from reactive hypoglycemia, to contact a specialist to understand when it is possible to insert this food. In these cases, in fact, it may not be appropriate to insert it a few hours after meals very rich in carbohydrates.
A final attention must be paid to all those who are being treated with anticoagulant drugs : in fact, over the years, serious consequences have occurred in patients treated with warfarin, who took cranberry juice concomitantly. The newer drugs used as anticoagulants are less affected by the concomitant use of supplements and foods. In conclusion, even if the consumption of a glass a day (240-280 ml) of cranberry juice does not seem to have detectable effects, in case of taking anticoagulants it is important to interface with the referring doctor.