Eating this fruit for a month will make your heart stronger

Cranberries are fruits which are usually associated with women's health and prevention of bladder infections, but it turns out that they also have health benefits for men. 

Cranberries grown and harvested in Massachusetts, USA (photo credit: Cjboffoli/Wikimedia)
Cranberries grown and harvested in Massachusetts, USA
(photo credit: Cjboffoli/Wikimedia)

It’s true that cranberries are linked to treating urinary tract infections, especially in women, but a new study seeks to put that aside and concentrate on the benefits of this small fruit, whose daily consumption for a month improved cardiovascular function in healthy men.

The new study, published this week in Food & Function, included 45 healthy men who consumed cranberry powder equivalent to 100 grams of fresh cranberries per day (9 grams of powder) or a placebo for one month. 

The study found that those who took the powder showed significant improvement in the ability of the arteries to dilate FMD- flow mediated dilation, which showed improvement in heart and blood vessel function. 

FMD is considered a biological marker sensitive to the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension and it measures how blood vessels dilate as blood flow increases.

Low consumption of fruits and vegetables is one of the leading risk factors for a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease worldwide. And, growing evidence continues to link berry polyphenols with heart health benefits. 

 Dried cranberries. (credit: Ɱ/Wikimedia) Dried cranberries. (credit: Ɱ/Wikimedia)

Cranberries are also rich in unique proanthocyanidins which contain unique properties compared to polyphenols found in other fruits.

The study found significant improvements in FMD two hours after first consumption and after a month of daily consumption, so researchers saw both immediate and chronic benefits. Also, metabolites were identified which have a positive effect on blood vessels. 

These results conclude that cranberries can play an important role in supporting cardiovascular health and better vascular function.

Dr. Christian Heiss, a cardiovascular specialist at the University of Surrey in England and co-author of the study, said: “Our findings provide solid evidence that cranberries can significantly affect vascular health even in people with low cardiovascular risk. This study further indicates that specific metabolites present in blood after cranberry consumption are related to the beneficial effects.”