Cranberry Juice: Good for the Heart

SCRANTON, Pa.–Drinking three glasses per day of cranberry juice can improve heart health by increasing HDL cholesterol and plasma antioxidant levels, according to research presented by Joe Vinson, Ph.D., of the University of Scranton, at a March 24 meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Vinson’s study involved 19 hypercholesterolemic volunteers, 10 of whom received cranberry juice that was artificially sweetened and contained no high-fructose corn syrup, and nine of whom received cranberry juice with no added sugar. Both types of juice contained 27-percent pure cranberry juice by volume, similar to juices found commercially, according to the ACS News Service (www.chemistry.org). Volunteers drank one 8-ounce glass of cranberry juice per day for the first month, two glasses per day for the next month and three glasses per day for the third month.

Cholesterol tests indicated that while there was no change among subjects’ overall cholesterol levels, “good” cholesterol levels increased by an average of 10 percent after three servings of juice per day. According to Vinson, this increase in HDL cholesterol lowered heart disease risk by 40 percent.

In addition to the increases in HDL cholesterol, subjects experienced increases in plasma antioxidant capacity by up to 121 percent while drinking two or three servings of cranberry juice per day. This also reduces heart disease risk, according to Vinson, whose work was funded in part by the Cranberry Institute, which is sponsored by companies such as Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc.

“This study gives consumers another reason to consider drinking cranberry juice, which has more health benefits than previously believed,” Vinson said. “People should consider drinking it with their meals, perhaps as an alternative to soda.”

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