Heart Shaped Cardio Trace - © dawsonchurch.org

A Handful Of Cranberries Can Improve Cardio Health

It doesn’t seem to matter whether you use fresh berries or cranberry supplement powder. Eating the equivalent of just 100 g of cranberries a day can significantly improve your cardio function. So claims a new study report from a team at King’s College London…

Fresh Cranberries - © healthline comFresh cranberries: Or the equivalent amount of whole-berry freeze-dried
powder supplement can significantly improve your cardio function!

We’ve heard from King’s College and its health and wellness researchers more than once in the past. And their findings have, by and large, stood the test of time. Now they say they’ve discovered that eating even a small amount of cranberries daily can make a big difference in your heart function.

What they did

The team, under the leadership of Dr. Ana Rodriguez-Mateos, chose a study group of 45 subjects – healthy men – and divided them in to two groups. One group got a daily supplement of freeze-dried whole cranberry powder equivalent to 100 g. of fresh cranberries, and the other got a placebo.

What they found

Those consuming cranberry had a significant improvement in flow-mediated dilation (FMD), which signals improvement of heart and blood vessel function. FMD is considered a sensitive biomarker of cardiovascular disease risk and measures how blood vessels widen when blood flow increases.

“The increases in polyphenols and metabolites in the bloodstream and the related improvements in flow-mediated dilation after cranberry consumption emphasise the important role cranberries may play in cardiovascular disease prevention,” says Rodriguez-Mateos.

The takeaway

“The fact that these improvements in cardiovascular health were seen with an amount of cranberries that can be reasonably consumed daily makes cranberry an important fruit in the prevention of cardiovascular disease for the general public,” Rodriguez-Mateos concludes.

Low consumption of fruits and vegetables is one of the top modifiable risk factors associated with a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease worldwide. Growing evidence continues to link the polyphenols from berries – particularly red and purple ones – with heart health benefits. Cranberries are rich in unique proanthocyanidins that have distinct properties compared to polyphenols found in other fruits.

My take

We’ve heard good things about blue, red and purple berries (notably, blueberries) and veggies (eg.- purple carrots) from the health and wellness research community before. We’ve also heard that drinking cranberry juice is good for you. Historically, it’s been prescribed by ‘Dr. Mom’ for things like urinary tract infections and recommended as a source of vitamins and other essential nutrients. Alas, the beverage industry has systematically – literally – watered down its Cranberry products to the point where they’re next to useless for medical purposes. It’s hard, if not impossible these days to find ‘pure, unsweetened’ cranberry juice at your local supermarket. Maybe at your local health food outlet.

I do believe in the power of fresh fruits and veggies to improve our overall health and wellness. I especially subscribe to the theory that blue, red and purple fruits and veggies can not only protect our health but can help cure some ugly conditions that can lead to a number of chronic diseases that proceed from systemic inflammation.

I just wish fresh fruits and veggies weren’t so darned expensive and, in the off-season, so hard to get, especially with the supply chain disruptions COVID has triggered. But the Kings College study seems to indicate that freeze-dried whole-berry powder supplements can work just as well. The really good news is, you can get whole-food extracts of a wide variety of fruits and veggies at your local ‘nutrition’ store, most at prices significantly below the cost of the the same amount of the fresh fruits and veggies. This looks like a promising direction for further exploration!

~ Maggie J.