If you haven't heard about the benefits of cranberries for gut health, expect that to change right now. Recent research suggests that the popular fruit might be just what your tummy needs this time of year. Considering Thanksgiving is right around the corner, we think this news couldn't have come at a better time.
A November 2018 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that cranberries can reduce the effects of a low-fiber, animal-based diet on gut health. Researchers analyzed 11 healthy participants after doing a control diet — focusing on meats, dairy products, and simple sugars — and then that same control diet with the addition of 30 grams of freeze-dried whole cranberry powder. The diets lasted for two five-day periods with a two-week washout in between them.
Results showed that the cranberry-enhanced diet showed fewer possible negative changes in the gut than the control diet alone. Researchers said it appeared that the simple addition of cranberries to the animal-based eating plan reduced the rise in certain gut bile acids that have been linked to colon and gastrointestinal cancers. On top of that, the cranberries also lessened the decrease in beneficial short chain fatty acids that may help with maintaining gastrointestinal health.
Overall, researchers said these findings suggested that cranberries might help support a healthy gut microbiome.
"Among the 20 most commonly consumed fruits in the American diet, we chose to investigate cranberries and the gut microbiome as they are among the fruits with a high total phenol content," said study author Oliver Chen, PhD, in a press release. "An imbalance can increase the risk for several chronic diseases, including atherosclerosis, hypertension, kidney disease, and type 2 diabetes. Identifying foods — like cranberries — that can help shape and support a healthier gut microbiome could have a remarkable impact on public health."
Will somebody please pass the cranberry sauce?
Next, learn about the tastiest superfoods that can help you live longer in the video below: