The cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) or large Blueberry of North America is, like the blueberries, an Ericaceous (flowering plant).
Its berries are grown mainly on the North American continent (United States and Canada), the harvest is done in the fall.
Native Americans already used it medicinally (urinary tract infections, wounds, digestive and kidney disorders, etc.). Rich in vitamin C, cranberries were eaten during long sea crossings by New England sailors to prevent scurvy.
On the culinary side, fresh or dried cranberries are used in the composition of savory or sweet dishes (turkey with cranberries at Thanksgiving), in the form of juice, in cocktails (cosmopolitan)…
Like all fruits, they do not contain fat and are sources of fiber. The presence of tannins rich in antioxidants brings this little acid or even astringent taste.
Dried cranberries no longer contain vitamin C since this vitamin is water-soluble. On the other hand, the fiber and carbohydrate contents are more concentrated than in fresh berries.
Little consumed in our country before the 2000s, we all associate it today with a preventive effect of urinary tract infections. Indeed, cranberries contain proanthocyanidins (PAC), antioxidant substances that would inhibit the adhesion of certain bacteria responsible for urinary tract infections (Escherichia Coli) on the cells of the urinary tract.
Studies show that the bacterial anti-adhesion effect is obtained from a consumption of 36mg/d of proanthocyanidins. This amount is found in approximately 25g of dried cranberries, 30g of fresh or frozen berries, 40g of fruit puree, or 300ml of cranberry drink.
“Experimental data obtained in vitro show that the proanthocyanidins present in cranberries have an inhibitory effect on the adhesion of certain bacteria responsible for urinary tract infections (E. coli) to urinary epithelial cells. However, the clinical data available to date do not allow us to conclude that cranberry consumption has a preventive effect on urinary tract infections. Such an allegation would be abusive in the light of current knowledge. (…). Considering the potential interest that the cranberry could constitute if its effect on the prevention of urinary tract infections were proven, ANSES will continue to follow the scientific news on this subject".
Excerpt from the note of 4 May 2011 from ANSES (National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety) :Cranberries and urinary tract infections:state of scientific knowledge
Stéphanie Bonifassi Dietitian Nutritionist Saint Paul de Vence