From low-fat recipes to recipes designed for persons with diabetes, Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, shares recipes and advice to create healthy meals that are guaranteed to please. [Editor's note: Elaine no longer contributes to Silver Planet, but we have made her archived blog entries available as a service to our readers.]
More evidence was just published touting the benefits of a natural remedy: cranberry juice. From the United Kingdom, the Cochrane Library completed a review of more than 1,000 participants from 10 studies and found that cranberry juice may indeed decrease the number of times people notice they have urinary tract infections (UTIs). I believe it has worked for me on several occasions.
How does it help exactly? Cranberries are indeed one of the richest sources of phytochemicals—proanthocyanidins—potent antioxidants thought to be particularly good at preventing Escherichia coli (E coli) bacteria from adhering to the cells lining the bladder wall and subsequently multiplying and causing bladder infections. This helps the urinary tract area better resist infection.
How much does the trick? Two glasses of cranberry juice a day, with a 30% concentration of cranberry, tends to be the recommended dose. I’m guessing it’s better for the bladder if you spread those glasses out through your day. In other words, don’t drink them both at the same time. Enjoy one glass earlier in the day and one later in the day.
If you are drinking 2 glasses of cranberry juice cocktail a day, it can add 280 calories, depending on the product you buy. Even the “no sugar added” 100% juice option by Ocean Spray (which sweetens the cranberry juice with grape juice) contributes 140 calories per 8-ounce glass. And I think I should warn you, some cranberry juice products contain high fructose corn syrup, so if you are trying to avoid this sweetener (which is a good idea in my opinion), make sure to read the ingredient labels.
The lowest-calorie option I found was Ocean Spray Light Cranberry Juice Cocktail with Splenda. This product contains 40 calories per 8-ounce glass, with 10 grams of carbohydrate. Along with filtered water and cranberry juice, it contains fructose, pectin, natural flavors, sodium citrate, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose (Splenda). Another option is to work in some dried cranberries. They too seem to benefit the bladder but in servings of a third of a cup.
Although the researchers did note that cranberry juice could prevent recurrent infections in women, the benefits appeared to vanish with elderly women (late 70s+) and people using catheters.
Sources: Jepson RG et al. "Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections." Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008. Issue 1. Art. No.: CD001321.
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
The Recipe Doctor Blog