Berries may be rich in antioxidants and play a role in maintaining cardiovascular health, but recent research suggests that the cranberry may have even more to offer.
Besides being a heart-healthy source of antioxidants, cranberries were shown to decrease total cholesterol and LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels in a recent study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"Our study found that feeding cranberry juice powder to animals with high cholesterol decreased total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by 22 percent," said Jess Reed, Ph.D.
This is the first time scientists have seen such a positive response with cranberry in reducing cholesterol levels. Research from another Wisconsin-Madison study focused on cranberry antioxidants, which inhibited LDL or "bad" cholesterol from being oxidized. Many researchers believe that oxidized LDL contributes to cardiovascular disease.
These studies build on previously published research that demonstrates the cranberry`s anti-adhesion properties. The cranberry may be unique by offering two key pathways to health-first as an anti-adhesion agent and secondly as an antioxidant.
According to Amy Howell, Ph.D., of Rutgers University, "Cranberries contain compounds that have an anti-adhesion or anti-stick mechanism that`s been shown to be effective in maintenance of urinary tract health. Preliminary research suggests this same anti-stick mechanism may work in the mouth and stomach, possibly helping to prevent gum disease and ulcers."
Additional research from Rutgers confirms that compounds in cranberries are, in fact, absorbed into the body. Howell continued, "We found in the animal model that cranberry compounds may be absorbed into the bloodstream and become available for use in other sites in the body."
Researchers agree that these preliminary studies are promising. These studies were funded by Ocean Spray and were presented at Experimental Biology 2001, sponsored by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.