Most of us have heard that cranberry juice is good for cystitis or UTIs –urinary tract infections. UTIs occur when bacteria, usually e. coli, work their way up from the urethra into the bladder where they adhere to the bladder wall causing a painful infection. Cranberries contain a substance that prevents these bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall so they can be flushed out with the urine. Researchers have found that as little as seven ounces of cranberry juice each day can reduce the incidence of UTIs in some women. However, pure cranberry juice is not palatable because it is so acidic. Luckily researchers discovered that blueberries can prevent bladder infections too. In fact, all berries in the vaccinium species –cranberries, blueberries, lingonberries and bilberries are effective.
Now you can add purple grapes to that list.
“It is well accepted that drinking cranberry juice reduces the incidence of urinary tract infection in women,” said David Mark, Ph.D., R&D Manager, Health and Nutrition, for Welch Foods Inc., which sponsored the study. “This effect is attributed to compounds in the juice called proanthocyanidins.” Researchers from Welch Foods compared proanthocyanidins from Welch’s Purple Grape Juice against those from both Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail and 100% cranberry juice in their effect against E. coli and found that the grape juice proanthocyanidins has a similar effect. “In our in vitro study, the proanthocyanidins from purple grape juice showed similar anti-adhesive qualities as those from cranberry juice.”
Other research has found purple grape juice protects the delicate membranes in your body better than vitamin E. Research at the USDA showed that total antioxidant capacity of purple grape juice was more than three times that of either orange, grapefruit, tomato or apple juice.
If you have diabetes
Diabetics should be interested in pomegranate juice and a study done in Israel. According to lead researcher Professor Michael Aviram of the Technion Faculty of Medicine, researchers gave volunteers 180 ml (6 oz.) of pomegranate juice a day for three months and were surprised to find that the sugars in pomegranate juice did not worsen diabetes symptoms (including blood sugar levels). Their results, published in the August 2006 issue of Atherosclerosis, also found participants had a decreased risk for atherosclerosis, a condition where plaque lesions form in the arteries.
According to Aviram “In most juices, sugars are present in free – and harmful – forms. In pomegranate juice, however, the sugars are attached to unique antioxidants, which actually make these sugars protective against atherosclerosis.”
Long-term consumption of pomegranate juice may have benefits for men with erectile dysfunction. Even the unborn babies of mothers who drink pomegranate juice can benefit; there is research to show its can protect the baby’s nerves and brain from damage during birth.
If you have cancer
Vegetable juice has benefits too. Cruciferous vegetables, which includes Brussels’s sprouts, kale, broccoli and cauliflower, contain unique substances that appear to help prevent cancer. Recently Italian scientists investigated the effect of whole fresh cauliflower juice on the growth of human breast cancer cells and found these substances could significantly inhibit breast cancer growth.
From Seattle we have the Kame Project. Researchers studied the diets of 1,836 dementia-free subjects in the Seattle population and tested their cognitive function every two years for up to 10 years. They found those who drank three or more servings of fruit and vegetable juices per week had a 76 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who drank juice less than once per week.
I want to warn readers of trying to substitute isolated extracts for the fruits and vegetables discussed here. Each plant is greater than the sum of its parts; all the chemicals and nutrients it contains work together to achieve the goal. Then there is the problem of safety with such extracts. So drink your juice, don’t swallow a tablet!