Dried cranberries have potential for boosting gut health

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25 Oct 2017 --- Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have evaluated whether one simple addition to the diet – one handful a day of sweetened dried cranberries – could positively influence the gut microbiome. After just two weeks and with only ten subjects, the differences were statistically insignificant but according to the researchers, were moving in the right direction, pointing to a role for cranberries in improving gut health.

Given the emerging knowledge that many biological functions, including immunity and disease-fighting capabilities, depend on a healthy gut microbiome, the authors of the study, recently published in OMICS: A Journal of Integrative Biology, tested whether dried cranberries could make a difference. 

“The aim of our prospective study was to determine if just one addition to the diet – a typical serving of sweetened dried cranberries – could alter a myriad of proteins and natural bacteria in the urinary proteome and fecal microbiome,” explains lead author Dr. Jess D. Reed. “Previous investigations showed that cranberry compounds influenced gut health. Similarly, our findings were positive, albeit statistically insignificant, but motivate us to continue exploring.”

The team sought to determine if daily consumption of sweetened dried cranberries changed the urinary proteome and fecal microbiome with a prospective sample of ten healthy individuals. Baseline urine and fecal samples were collected from the subjects in a fasted state (eight to 12 hours). The subjects then consumed one serving (42g) of dried cranberries daily with lunch for two weeks. Urine and fecal samples were collected again the day after two weeks of dried cranberry consumption.

Well-researched superfruit
Researching the health benefits of cranberries is not a new phenomenon, the University of Wisconsin-Madison press release points out. Observational and clinical studies have raised interest in the potential health effects of cranberry consumption.

The University of Madison-Wisconsin research supports findings from UMass Amherst research earlier this year, which suggested that a carbohydrate in cranberries can help beneficial gut flora grow. Other health benefits of cranberries seem to include protection against UTIs, as was shown when Health Canada concluded that Fruit d’Or Nutraceuticals’ Cran Naturelle organic cranberry juice powder should be registered with a Natural Product Number claim for the support of a healthy urinary tract.

In 2013, a team of scientists pulled together decades of research in a review published in Advances of Nutrition, the University of Madison-Wisconsin press release adds. In it, they stated that the association between cranberries and health appears to be due to the plant compounds in cranberries. Among the data reviewed were studies that evaluated the impact of cranberries on the risk of recurrent urinary tract infections, cardiovascular health and blood glucose management.

“This trial only scratches the surface of the potential role of cranberries in whole-body health,” adds study author Chris Krueger. “These results give us another reason to delve deeper into the diverse effects cranberry compounds have on the human body.”

“We are pleased that scientists are taking a fresh look at cranberries,” comments Terry Humfeld, executive director of The Cranberry Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting cranberry research and education. “We are especially encouraged by this study and the potential that dried cranberries could have on gut health.”

A serving of dried cranberries provides 10 percent of the Daily Value for fiber and half a cup is equivalent to one fruit serving, according to MyPlate guidelines in the US.

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