Does It Increase Sexual Well being or Deal with UTIs?
While you may be used to cranberries as a Thanksgiving sauce or dried and tossed into a salad, many people drink cranberry juice as well.
These acidic fruits are full of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber, and their juice is said to offer a variety of benefits to women in particular.
In fact, many people claim that cranberry juice helps prevent or treat urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Although the scientific results are mixed, some studies suggest that cranberry juice is effective for this purpose – and possibly even has other women’s health benefits.
This article examines how cranberry juice affects women’s health.
There are many rumors that cranberry juice can improve people’s sex life by changing the taste of vaginal secretions.
While these claims are scientifically unfounded, some evidence suggests that cranberry juice may have beneficial effects on postmenopausal health, symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and the signs of aging.
Some sources claim that drinking cranberry juice can enhance sexual experiences by improving the taste of vaginal secretions.
While one study lists diets as one of several factors affecting the vaginal microbiome, no scientific evidence supports the claim that cranberry juice can improve vaginal taste (1).
Hence, drinking cranberry juice is unlikely to boost your sex life.
Post menopausal health
Menopause marks the end of menstruation. It is associated with a variety of hormonal changes that can lead to unpleasant symptoms such as mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and an increased risk of UTIs (2, 3).
Interestingly, animal studies show that cranberry juice can support postmenopausal health.
An older study of rats with their ovaries removed found that regular consumption of cranberry reduced total cholesterol and other biomarkers of heart health. Removal of the rats’ ovaries mimics postmenopausal hormone breakdown in women (4).
Still, human studies are needed.
Can prevent signs of aging and promote immunity
Cranberries are incredibly rich in antioxidants, which are powerful compounds that help neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals in your body. The antioxidants found in these berries include vitamin C, quercetin, flavonoids, and anthocyanins (5, 6).
Processing berries into juice can result in some loss of antioxidants, but cranberry juice is still quite high in these compounds. In fact, 1 cup (240 ml) of cranberry juice contains over 78% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C (7).
This vitamin promotes immune system health and proper collagen formation, which can increase the elasticity of your skin and reduce the signs of aging (8).
Some studies also suggest that vitamin C supports heart health in women by inhibiting the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which can contribute to blockages in your arteries (9, 10).
However, studies have seen conflicting results, and more research is needed to understand the relationship between vitamin C and heart health.
In addition, test-tube studies suggest that quercetin can help prevent pancreatic, breast, and colon cancers, but there is a lack of human research (11).
Can relieve PMS symptoms and prevent osteoporosis
Cranberry juice is a decent source of magnesium, containing 4% of the DV in 1 cup (240 ml) (12).
This mineral – which many people can’t get enough of – is important for many body processes, including healthy bones and proper muscle function. Deficiency can contribute to muscle cramps (13).
Increasing magnesium intake can help muscles contract more effectively, resulting in less pain. Hence, this mineral is believed to help relieve PMS symptoms, which can include convulsions (14).
In addition, magnesium is necessary for the regulation of bone density. Women are at increased risk of osteoporosis – or loss of bone density – later in life, especially after menopause, when the protective effects of estrogen on the bones wears off (15, 16).
Hence, magnesium can help alleviate this condition.
You may also experience anxiety, depression, lower back pain, and breast tenderness during PMS. An older review showed a significant decrease in these symptoms when women were supplemented with magnesium (17).
Still, the amount of magnesium in this test was far higher than what one would get from drinking cranberry juice. Therefore, specific research on cranberry juice is needed.
While more human studies are needed, cranberry juice may have several health benefits for women. These include relieving PMS symptoms, preventing osteoporosis, supporting postmenopausal health, and reducing the signs of aging.
Cranberry juices and supplements have long been popular folk remedies for treating or preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs).
This condition occurs when bacteria such as E. coli enter and grow in your urinary tract – your ureters, bladder, urethra, or kidneys.
People with a vagina are at higher risk for these infections, in part because of their anatomy. Sexual activity and pregnancy also increase your risk (18, 19).
Mild UTI symptoms include a painful, burning sensation when urinating, while an untreated UTI can cause severe complications such as a kidney infection.
The most common treatment for urinary tract infection is antibiotics, although these antibiotics have long-term side effects and can kill some of the good bacteria in your gut (20, 21, 22, 23).
Therefore, many people are interested in preventing these infections in the first place.
Proanthocyanidins, a type of tannin found in cranberries, stop bacteria such as E. coli from adhering to the wall of your urinary tract. This, in turn, can help keep the bacteria count and cause infections (24).
The evidence on cranberries and UTI prevention is mixed, but studies tend to suggest a moderate correlation between cranberries or cranberry juice and UTI prevention (25, 26).
However, there is no evidence that cranberry juice can treat urinary tract infections. If you suspect you already have an infection, you should see your doctor (27).
Some evidence suggests that cranberry juice may help prevent urinary tract infections, although the results are mixed – and no research shows that this juice can treat urinary tract infections.
There is very limited data on how much cranberry juice is effective at preventing urinary tract infections or other potential health benefits. The same goes for supplements, so you will likely find different dosages.
Different dosages were used in a review of UTI prevention.
For example, one group in one study drank 0.23 ounces (6.8 ml) of Ocean Spray cranberry juice per pound (15 ml per kg) of body weight. In another study, people took beetroot capsules containing 8 grams of cranberry extract once a day (28).
When taking cranberry pills, never exceed the dosage recommendation on the label.
If you have any questions about a specific amount of juice to drink or need a specific dosage, consult a doctor or Registered Dietitian (RD).
There is no set dosage of cranberry juice for urinary tract infection prevention or other potential health benefits. To determine a safe and effective dosage, speak to a doctor or RD.
The main disadvantage of cranberry juice is that store-bought mixes often contain other juices or add a lot of sugar to make the drink more palatable, since cranberry juice is very acidic in itself.
Therefore, you should avoid cranberry juice mixes that contain less than 100% juice, contain added sugar, or list another juice as the first ingredient.
Pure, unsweetened cranberry juice is the easiest and healthiest option. Still, it can get expensive.
You can also buy cranberry supplements that are more concentrated than juice. While these may seem more effective, a larger amount does not necessarily provide greater benefit or faster result.
Finally, high doses of cranberry extract can increase the effects of warfarin, a blood thinner. Even if you are not taking this medication, it is imperative that you consult your doctor before starting any new supplement (29).
Commercial cranberry juices are often loaded with added sugar or sweetened with other fruit juices. Buy pure, unsweetened cranberry juice whenever possible.
Rumors of cranberry juice enhancing vaginal taste are unfounded.
Even so, this juice contains vitamin C, magnesium and various antioxidants. There is evidence that these nutrients can boost immune health, relieve PMS symptoms, and promote bone density in women.
Cranberry juice can also help prevent urinary tract infections, although the scientific results are mixed.