Web Zap*Germs Archive

April 13, 2005

Cranberries: Much More Than An Irish Band

Where were we with cranberries? It's been a while since science confirmed that cranberry juice helps prevent/heal urinary tract infections (by preventing bacteria from sticking to the bladder's wall). My mom swore by the stuff, long before the doctor stopped smirking and started believing.

Then Dolores Riordan and friends got everyone confused for a while.

But it turns out there's much more to this tart fruit than painless peeing and good music. First, it appears that swishing cranberry juice in your mouth helps prevent the bacteria that cause gum disease from sticking to your teeth -- although it appears that using the unsweetened juice would be a better bet.

[Update 07 Jun 2005: New research shows that -- at least in animals -- cranberry juice prevents intestinal viruses from infecting their hosts.]

There's another good use for cranberries, though so far it's only been tried on pigs -- and the pigs had to consume huge quantities of cranberry powder in this study. But the powder reportedly counteracted hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) which leads to heart attack or stroke. It appears that polyphenols, which are chemicals found in tea, and fruits like cranberries, grapes and blueberries, are doing something good. Besides drinking cranberry juice, then, you might consider taking cranberry supplements.


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