Take a stroll through your local grocery store and you'll see that cranberries come in many forms including juice, concentrate, raw berries and, now, in the form of cranberry supplements. Not everyone is a fan of the tart taste of cranberries, but most people are interested in reaping the health benefits said to be induced by consuming the fruit in any of its forms. Hence, the cranberry supplement is available. Before you stock up on the supplements, know that the cranberry isn't a magical fruit. The claims made on its behalf aren't supported by enough scientific evidence yet.
What Can the Cranberry Do for You?
Cranberries are said to help prevent inflammation, urinary tract infections, cancer, kidney stones and plaque, among other ailments. The active ingredients in cranberries include proanthocyanidins--chemical compounds that appear to be able to decrease bacterial attachment to certain cells in the bladder. It makes sense, then, to consume cranberries in some form to aid in bladder health and overall functioning. But that's not all! It's also said that cranberries' power to prevent bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract translates over to your mouth--cranberries are said to prevent plaque from clinging to the teeth and gums. Cranberry supplements are the natural option for anyone who is diabetic, as cranberries are high in sugar (the juice forms even more so) and supplements don't contain any sugar or additives.
Don't Load Up Yet!
Before you make a bee line to your neighborhood grocery or health food store to load up on cranberry supplements, know that all the claims made for cranberries haven't been substantiated yet by hard scientific evidence. The most promising health benefit linked to cranberries, as supported by scientific studies, is its ability to prevent an H. pylori infection, which causes gastrointestinal ulcers and dental plaque. Taking a cranberry supplement may help prevent this infection. Scientific evidence is weak or lacking on most other claims including cranberry's power to prevent cancer, kidney stones, improve memory and work as a powerful antioxidant. In most cases, some research has been done in these areas, but it's inconclusive due to the lack of reliable human studies.
Want to Know More?
As a general rule, don't believe what the whole foods web pages and supplement packages tell you. They're trying to sell you something, not give straight-forward scientific and factual information. At the same time, no major side effects are known to occur by taking cranberry supplements.
Cranberries are easily part of a well-balanced diet. If you dislike the taste or are diabetic (or simply watching your sugar intake), consider taking a cranberry supplement. As always, talking to your doctor about the necessity of taking a supplement is always the safest thing to do.