Drinking two glasses of cranberry juice a day may cut your risk of suffering a stroke or heart disease, research suggests.
Cranberries contain polyphenols, protective compounds that support the body’s natural defences.
The 56 participants in the study, conducted by the US Department of Agriculture, were split into two groups who were given controlled diets.
One group drank about four-fifths of a pint of low-calorie cranberry juice a day, while the other drank a placebo with a similar colour and flavour.
Researchers took measurements of health indicators from the participants, including blood pressure, blood sugar levels and blood lipids.
After eight weeks, those who drank the cranberry juice improved across all these measures. The changes could be associated with a 15 per cent lower risk of a stroke and a 10 per cent lower risk of heart disease.
At the start and end of the experiment, the researchers measured things like blood pressure, blood sugar levels, blood lipids, as well as C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.
All of these measurements come together to tell a story. The worse off these numbers are in an individual, the more likely he or she will face a health condition like diabetes, heart disease or stroke in the future.
These findings suggest that polyphenols help to protect our bodies, and may be adept at keeping a large number of ailments at bay.
Luckily for us, a rich source of polyphenols is only a glass of cranberry juice away. Among the commonly consumed fruits in our diets, cranberries boast some of the highest levels of polyphenols – more than apples, blueberries, grapes or cherries.