Dr. Weeks’ Comment: cranberry can be a ladies best friend is anyone who’s had chronic recurrent urinary tract infections can tell you. Cranberry helps protect against urinary tract infections because of a sugar in it called D-mannose which acts like Teflon in the ureter which is the piping and prevents bacteria from adhering and colonizing. As is the case with all plants the cranberry seed is a far greater treasure then the cranberry fruit. The cranberry seed and the oil that comes from it or tremendously valuable as the following article shows. What the article doesn’t state which is very important to understand is that eating the crushed whole seed and not just the extracted oil is a far more beneficial offering.
Popularly known for preventing urinary tract infections, cranberry is an evergreen shrub bearing upright branches with leaves that are speckled with tiny dots underneath. One of the most nutritious parts of cranberry is the seed, which is a byproduct of cranberry juice processing, according to the research paper, “Consumer Acceptance of Cranberry Seed Oil in Several Food Formulations” published on the website of University of Wisconsin-Stout. The oil from the cranberry seed contains high levels of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, phospholipids, phytosterols and large amounts of antioxidants that offer a variety of health benefits.
Cranberries are a good source of phenolic phytochemicals, including flavonoids and phenolic acids. Polyphenols found in cranberries may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by impeding platelet aggregation, lowering blood pressure and promoting resistance of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, against oxidation, according to an article published in the November 2007 issue of “Nutrition Reviews.” Chock-full of antioxidants, cranberry also helps fight free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage DNA, disrupt the metabolism of lipids and boost inflammation, thereby elevating risk of chronic diseases and certain cancers.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in cranberry seed oil promote heart health by decreasing LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, both of which can hurt your heart. Your body cannot make omega-3 fats so you need to get them through diet. In addition to reducing your risk of heart disease, omega-3 fats support healthy brain function and aid your normal growth and development. Most importantly, cranberry seed oil has a favorable 1 to 1 ratio of omega-6 to omega -3 fatty acids. Having a balanced ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 is crucial for optimal health, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Omega-3 fatty acids help fight inflammation and may help cut risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and arthritis. Omega-6 fatty acids, on the other hand, tend to fuel inflammation and increase the risk of chronic diseases.
Tocotrienols, which are forms of natural vitamin E and found in cranberry seed oil, protect nerve cells against toxicity generated by glutamate and other toxins, according to a study published in the December 2004 issue of the “Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.” Glutamate, a powerful excitatory neurotransmitter, sends signals between nerve cells and plays a crucial role in memory and learning. However, too much of it can cause over-excitation of nerve cells, leading to cell death. The study also stated that tocotrienols possess strong antioxidant, anticancer, and cholesterol-lowering properties.
Cranberry seed oil contains naturally occurring substances called phytosterols that structurally resemble your body’s cholesterol. Because of this striking similarity, phytosterols, also known as plant sterols or stanols, compete with cholesterol for absorption by your body. As a consequence, the absorption of dietary cholesterol in the small intestine is blocked and blood cholesterol levels are decreased. Phytosterols reduce LDL, or bad cholesterol, by 6 to 15 percent, but they do not affect high-density lipoprotein, called HDL, or good cholesterol. Eating foods with phytosterols may cut your risk for heart disease when consumed as part of a heart healthy eating plan, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Because of the effectiveness of phytosterols, the National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that people who have high cholesterol should consume 2 grams of phytosterols every day.