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Stanford Medicine

Nutrition

Wherein we justify eating more cranberry sauce tomorrow

Cran-pic.jpg

One more Thanksgiving post before you sit down to dinner: As you pile your plate high with turkey, sweet potatoes and green beans, you might also consider loading up on the cranberries. Why? Previous studies have shown cranberries may possess compounds that inhibit the growth of cancer and microbes, reduce inflammation and help the heart.

Here’s a look at what researchers have learned about this Thanksgiving staple:

  • Cranberries are a source of natural anti-bacterial compounds called proanthocyanidins (PACs). Recent research at Worcester Polytechnic Institute has shown that PACs inhibit the ability of E. Coli bacteria to adhere to epithelial cells that line the urinary tract. Additionally, a review of Pubmed literature suggests that daily consumption of cranberries may help prevent recurrent urinary tract infection.
  • Extracts and compounds isolated from cranberries can inhibit the growth and proliferation of a host of cancers including: breast, colon, prostate, and lung. Chemopreventive mechanisms induced by the fruit range from inhibition of enzymes whose aberrant activity in cells promotes cancer progression to induction of cancer cell death. See this review.

Of course, more research is needed to fully understand what health benefits cranberries might confer. But, for now, you can at least feel less guilty about indulging in an extra serving of the crimson fruit.

Previously: A guide to your Thanksgiving dinner’s DNA
Photo by prettyinprint

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