Cranberries' antioxidant level tops list in USDA report

WAREHAM — The latest Agricultural Research Service Report from USDA, containing the results of the most comprehensive analysis of antioxidants in foods, shows cranberries score among
the highest of all common fruits on the antioxidant scale.

The report includes antioxidant values for a wide variety of foods, which are measured by their Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, or ORAC value. With 9584 ORAC units per 100 grams of fresh
fruit, cranberries have the highest antioxidant capacity when compared to 19 common fruits.

Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods – 2007 U.S. Department of Agriculture

The chart above shows cranberries score the highest of all common fruits on the antioxidant scale at 9584 ORAC units per 100 g as reported in the recently updated USDA ORAC report.

Often identified in food by their deep-colored pigments – such as the deep red color of cranberries – antioxidants are important components in plants that are showing potential to protect the
body from harmful oxidants known as «free radicals,» which are caused by daily stresses like cigarette smoke, pollutants, unhealthy foods and environmental toxins.(1) The cell
damage caused by free radicals weakens the immune system and is linked to several diseases. Antioxidants reduce the effect of these free radical oxidants by binding with them and decreasing
their destructive power and repairing damage. While more research is needed on the effects of antioxidants on health, preliminary studies suggest they may work by helping to maintain healthy
cells, tissues and arteries.

There are different types of antioxidants. Known for their antioxidant activity, flavonoids make up the largest subgroup of phytonutrients, which are beneficial compounds found in plant-based
foods, including cranberries. Specifically, cranberries contain a subclass of flavonoids called anthocyanins, which are known for their role as antioxidants. Additionally, cranberries contain a
subclass called proanthocyanidins, known for helping to inhibit E.coli – the bacteria responsible for 80-90 percent of urinary tract infections – and helping to maintain a healthy urinary
tract.(2-6) Ongoing research continues to reveal more about the unique flavonoid contributions of cranberries and flavonoids’ potential effects on health.

This is exciting news for those who want great taste and healthy rewards from their food choices. With so many reasons to love cranberries, it’s just a matter of choosing which of their bright
red forms to enjoy; choose from sweetened or unsweetened cranberry juice, sweetened dried cranberries, cranberry sauce and frozen berries. Try starting your day with cranberry juice, a
cran-smoothie, oatmeal topped with dried cranberries or a cranberry oatmeal muffin. Later in the day, enjoy sweetened dried cranberries as a snack, as a topper on salads, in trail mix, or mixed
in rice.

Sources:
1. Urquiaga I, Leighton F. Plant Polyphenol Antioxidants and Oxidative Stress. Presented at the conference, «Biology and Pathology of Free Radicals: Plant and Wine Polyphenol
Antioxidants» held July 29-30, 1999, at the Catholic University, Santiago, Chile, partially supported by the Molecular Basis of Chronic Diseases Program of the Catholic University
(PUC-PBMEC99).

2. Avorn J., Monane M., Gurwitz JH., Glynn RJ, Choodnovskiy L., Lipsitz LA. Reduction of bacteriuria and pyuria after ingestion of cranberry juice. Journal of the American Medical
Association, 1994: 271:751-754.

3. Stothers L. Randomized trial to evaluate effectiveness and cost effectiveness of naturopathic cranberry products as prophylaxis against urinary tract infection in women. Canadian Journal
of Urology, 2002: 9:1558-1562.

4. Howell AB, Reed JD, Krueger CG, Winterbottom R, Cunningham DG, Leahy M. A-Type cranberry proanthocyanidins and uropathogenic bacterial anti-adhesion activity. Photochemistry 2005:
66:2281-2291.

5. Greenberg JA, Newmann SJ, Howell AB. Consumption of sweetened dried cranberries versus unsweetened raisins for inhibition of uropathogenic escherichia coli adhesion in human urine: A
pilot study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2005: 11:875-878.

6. Liu Y, Black MA, Caron L, Camesano TA. Role of cranberry juice on molecular scale surface characteristics and adhesion behavior of escherichia coli. Biotechnology and Bioengineering 2006;
93:297-305.

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