The cranberries used in the cranberry sauce at the Thanksgiving table are for more than just a delicious side dish. These nifty little fruits have been used for their medicinal properties for hundreds of years. Chock-full of antioxidants, cranberries are a great common natural remedy for urinary tract infections (UTIs) and gastric ulcer suppression and can also be used to improve dental hygiene and prevent bacteria from sticking to your teeth, according to the Nutritional Supplement Educational Centre. They are also effective for flushing out the kidneys, reducing the risk of heart disease and enhancing overall good health. Previous studies also conclude that cranberries may also fight bacteria including E. coli. Cranberry can be found in many forms, including fruit, juice, extract, pill and capsule. Cranberry pills and capsules offer an alternative method for many people who do not like the taste of the fruit or juice and can be easily obtained in most health food stores and online. However, there is no evidence that has found a difference between cranberry juice and cranberry pills, as these are equally effective and standardized for their proanthocyandin content, according to Livestrong.com. Although they contain the same content, it has been found that cranberry pills are more potent than the juice. The pills usually come from 100 percent cranberries, while the juice itself is more diluted and contains added sugars or flavoring. The pills are especially effective, though, for people who are watching their calorie intake. It is recommended that those wanting to receive the most health benefits read the labels to confirm the cranberry pills selected are from 100 percent cranberries. It is recommended to consume cranberry juice in doses of four to 10 oz. of pure juice, or 114 to 296 ml, a day reportedly helps treat and prevent recurrences of UTIs. Drinking several 16 oz. or 500ml glasses of unsweetened cranberry juice from concentrate daily is also beneficial; however, commercially available juice has added sweetener, so it is important to look for the brand with the lowest amount of added sugar. Capsules and pills containing 72 mg of proanthocyandin content are effective for preventing UTIs, but lower dosages are not. There is much debate on whether or not cranberries are truly effective when used for preventing UTIs, so it is important to contact your doctor if you are having issues with UTIs. Although mostly beneficial, cranberries do have some side effects, including diarrhea, upset stomach, increased risk of kidney stones and antacid nullification. Talk to your doctor before taking cranberry tablets along with other medications, as mixing medications could cause blood thinning or excess bleeding, especially when mixed with Warfarin.
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