Although researchers have long suspected, based on laboratory tests, that the antioxidant-rich juice may help lower risk factors for heart disease, no human studies had established such a link until now. Their findings, the first long-term study of the effect of cranberry juice on cholesterol levels, were described today at the 225th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
"This study gives consumers another reason to consider drinking cranberry juice, which has more health benefits than previously believed. People should consider drinking it with their meals, perhaps as an alternative to soda," says Joe Vinson, Ph.D., the study's lead author and a professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton in Scranton, Penn.
Besides heart benefits, previous studies have shown that cranberries can help prevent urinary tract infections and may reduce the risk of gum disease, stomach ulcers and cancer.
In the current study, Vinson measured cholesterol levels in nineteen subjects with high cholesterol after a fasting, baseline blood sampling, followed by monthly samplings. Ten of the subjects were given cranberry juice with artificial sweetener but without high fructose corn syrup, while the other subjects drank cranberry juice with no added sugars. The drinks tested all contained approximately 27 percent pure cranberry juice by volume, like the common supermarket variety.
Each subject was fed one glass (8 ounces) of juice a day for the first month, then two glasses a day for the next month, and three glasses a day during the third month of the study. Subjects were not monitored with respec