Cranberry juice can boost your health

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.

Green tea may help you lose weight

Drinking green tea may help you keep slim, say scientists.

An extract from the tea was found to reduce the amount of starch – a type of carbohydrate – absorbed from food during meals.

It means the drink could be used to help treat people suffering from obesity and diabetes.

Researchers gave 28 participants aged 19 to 28 a bowl of cornflakes to eat, having asked them to fast for the 12 hours before the test.

They then asked them to eat a wafer – some of which contained around four grams of green tea extract, while others contained none.

This was equivalent to drinking ‘several cups of green tea’, said researchers.

The scientists then tested participants’ breath for the presence of starch. When starch is broken down during digestion, the amount can be picked up by testing how much carbon dioxide is in the breath.

Led by Jaroslaw Walkowiak of Poznan University in Poland, the researchers found the dose of green tea extract decreased starch digestion and absorption compared to the placebo group.

Green tea
Green tea

Writing in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, the study’s authors said: ‘This plant extract is widely available, inexpensive, and well tolerated, so it has potential utility for weight control and the treatment of diabetes.’

Green tea contains a variety of ingredients that may prevent starch from being absorbed – chiefly chemicals called polyphenols. But the drink can vary as to the amount of polyphenols it contains.

The drink has been widely studied for its health effects. In 2012 a review of 18 studies involving 1,945 people found no significant effect of drinking green tea on weight loss. However, other research has found it can reduce cholesterol.

Dietitian Alison Hornby has previously said: ‘In the Far East, green tea has been used as a treatment for a variety of conditions ranging from arthritis to weight loss, as well as a preventative measure for diseases such as cancer, although the evidence for the majority of these conditions is weak or lacking.’