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What Is Cranberry Extract?

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  • Written By: Britt Archer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 March 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Cranberry extract is derived from cranberries, small, round, red fruit that grows on evergreen bushes. The extract is a popular product used to prevent and treat bladder infections. The juice pressed from the fruit is also used to prevent bladder infections, but it is not as successful in treating an infection once it takes hold. The use of cranberries for urinary problems dates back hundreds of years to when many Native American tribes used cranberries for medicinal purposes.

People who are prone to developing kidney stones may want to avoid ingesting cranberry extract, however. Some forms of cranberry extract on the market have been shown to increase the amount of oxalate found in urine by more than 40 percent, and kidney stones are composed mainly of oxalate.

It is thought that cranberry extract works well for urinary tract infections because it contains chemicals that prevent bacteria from taking hold in the bladder’s cells and multiplying. It was formerly believed that cranberry juice and cranberry extract were effective because of the increased acidity they cause in the urine. It was believed the higher acid level prevented bacteria from growing, but researchers now doubt this theory.

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Cranberry extract is considered relatively safe, but some people have experienced allergic reactions. Side effects after consumption of large doses of extract or juice can include diarrhea and nausea. If large amounts of store-bought juice are consumed, diabetics should be aware that it may might contain large amounts of sugar. The cranberry fruit, however, contains a small amount of sodium, nearly no fat and is a good source of vitamin C. The high vitamin C content made cranberries a good food for sailors centuries ago because vitamin C prevented them from developing scurvy.

Cooking with cranberries often brings to mind one of the most popular cranberry dishes, cranberry sauce. The sauce is a popular side dish in autumn and winter, particular at holiday tables. Cranberry sauce can be made from scratch or based on canned cranberries. Cranberries are popular ingredients in muffins, custard, and bread pudding recipes, and the dried fruit is often present in granola or trail mixes. Some people enjoy them on French toast or pancakes. No matter how cranberries are prepared, they retain their health benefits.

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