Drinking two glasses of cranberry juice a day can lead to significant heart health benefits, according to a study published in the journal AgResearch. The findings support previous studies that showed an association between polyphenol-rich cranberries and a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Researchers from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland gave 56 participants either low-calorie cranberry juice (Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc.) or a similar-tasting placebo twice a day for eight weeks and found that the juice lowered several risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes and stroke. The 30 women and 26 men were given 8-ounce servings at breakfast and dinner in a double-blind study in which they ate only foods provided as part of the study.
The cranberry juice was sweetened with sucralose and had the same juice content (27 percent) and nutrients as most sugar-sweetened cranberry juice available in stores. The placebo was a flavor-matched, calorie-matched, artificially colored beverage. After eight weeks, volunteers given the juice had notable lower levels of five of 22 indicators of cardiometabolic risk in their blood, compared with volunteers given the placebo.
Cardiometabolic risk is the combined risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes and stroke, which together causes more deaths in the developed world than anything else. CVD alone causes 930,000 deaths in the United States each year. The ARS researchers said this study is the first to show cranberries confer such health benefits in a controlled-diet, double-blind clinical trial, which is considered the gold standard in health and medical research.