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Fortified cranberry juice may improve heart health, says human data

By Stephen DANIELLS , 19-Jun-2013
Last updated the 19-Jun-2013 at 17:38 GMT

Fortified cranberry juice may improve heart health, says human data

Daily consumption of cranberries may reduce markers of cardiovascular disease, says a new study from Brazil that builds the heart health benefits of the berries.

Sixty days of drinking 0.7 liters per day of cranberry juice fortified with folic acid was associated with significant increases in adiponectin, a hormone released from fat cells that plays an important role in the regulation of insulin sensitivity and energy, and a decrease in homocysteine, an amino acid linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Results published in the British Journal of Nutrition also indicated that people with metabolic syndrome experienced decreases in measurements of oxidative stress, including lipoperoxidation and protein oxidation levels, following consumption of the cranberry juice, compared with the control group.

“The consumption of cranberry juice for 60 d was able to improve some cardiovascular risk factors,” wrote researchers from the Philadelphia University Center (UNIFIL) Londrina and the University of Londrina.

“The present data reinforce the importance of the inverse association between homocysteine and adiponectin and the need for more specifically designed studies on MetS patients.”

Cranberries and urinary tract health

The link between cranberries and urinary tract health is well established, and linked to its proanthocyanidin (PAC) content. In 2004 France became the first country to approve a health claim for the North American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) with at least 36mg of proanthocyanidins (PAC) to “help reduce the adhesion of certain E. coli bacteria to the urinary tract walls”, and subsequently fight urinary tract infections (UTIs).

The new study extends our understanding of cranberries, indicating a role for the little red fruit for heart health.

A study by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, published in 2012 in the European Journal of Nutrition (doi: 10.1007/s00394-012-0334-4), indicated that cranberry juice may reduce the number of endothelial cells that produce a compound called osteocalcin, which has been linked to hardening of the arteries.

That study was funded by cranberry giant Ocean Spray and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Speaking at the Berry Health Symposium in Charlotte, NC, yesterday, Ocean Spray’s Dr Christina Khoo explained that cranberry’s heart health benefits include improvements in dyslipidemia, LDL oxidation, vascular health, as well as anti-inflammatory activity.

Study details

The Brazilian researchers recruited 56 people with metabolic syndrome for their clinical trial. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either the folic acid-enriched cranberry juice or control juice for 60 days.

While the cranberry juice was associated with improvements in adiponectin and homocystein levels, and decreases in measures of oxidative stress, the juice was not associated with any improvements in markers of inflammation, including TNF-alpha, IL-1 and IL-6.

Metabolic syndrome is characterized by central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism. The syndrome has been linked to increased risks of both type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that some 75 million Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome.

Source: British Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, FirstView Articles, doi: 10.1017/S0007114513001207
“Reduced-energy cranberry juice increases folic acid and adiponectin and reduces homocysteine and oxidative stress in patients with the metabolic syndrome”
Authors: T.N.C. Simao, M.A.B. Lozovoy, A.N.C. Simao, S.R. Oliveira, D. Venturini, H.K. Morimoto, L.H. Silva Miglioranza, I. Dichi

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