Benefits Of Cranberries

Nov 15, 2022 , Supplements

Benefits Of Cranberries

You might know them as that sour side dish that makes an appearance in the fall for the holidays. Or maybe you’ve noticed their strong tart flavor in fruit punches and mixed cocktails. Cranberries are well-known, if not always well-liked, but do you know their history and their benefits?

What are Cranberries?

First, some backstory. Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) are deep red berries native to North America and have been used by Native Americans for centuries. These tangy berries are grown in swamps or bogs and traditionally were harvested to be used in foods, drinks, and remedies. [1]

Cranberries are a member of the Ericaceae family, which are evergreens and grow in cool, damp climates in the northeastern U.S. and southern Canada. Despite what you might think, cranberries do not grow in ponds or lakes. Instead, they grow on low-lying vines that require both peat soil and freshwater. These vine beds are called bogs and look like marshy wetlands. Since cranberries can float, a popular harvesting method is to flood the field and dislodge the berries so that they rise to the top, making them easier to harvest.[2]

Cranberries are naturally bitter due to their concentration of plant compounds called tannins (a group of polyphenols).[3] Other foods with tannins are blueberries, raspberries, coffee, dark chocolate and wine. Because cranberries can produce that lip-puckering sour sensation, they are rarely eaten raw. Instead, cranberries are sweetened when used in fruit juices, sauces and side dishes. Cranberries can also be dried for use in nut mixes and granola bars, although they are usually still sweetened.

Now that we know more about cranberries let’s answer—what are cranberries good for?

What are the Benefits of Cranberries?

Raw cranberries contain water, soluble fiber, antioxidants and essential nutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K and Manganese. [4]

Additionally, cranberries are a potent source of polyphenols, including flavonoids, anthocyanins, and proanthocyanidins (PACs). These plant polyphenols act as antioxidants. Incorporating cranberries into your diet, along with other fruits and vegetables, will give you a variety of polyphenols that may positively contribute to your overall health and wellness.[5]

Cranberries are often used in dietary supplements sourced from cranberry fruit extract, a concentrated form of cranberry. For health benefits, cranberry fruit extract is often combined with Vitamin C, an important antioxidant that helps support the immune system and neutralize free radicals in the body.†

The Bottom Line

Cranberries are a holiday side dish staple. Native to North America, Native Americans traditionally used this fruit in foods and remedies. Raw cranberries are bitter but packed with nutrients, especially antioxidants. Because they are so tart, cranberries are usually processed into sweetened juices, sauces and packaged foods, so you’ll want to be conscious of the added sugar content.

If you’re like the many individuals watching your sugar intake, or if you don’t enjoy the sour taste of raw cranberries, consider Nature Made Cranberry 450 mg Extract with Vitamin C. Two softgels provide 900 mg of cranberry fruit extract plus 250 mg of Vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals in the body and helps support the immune system. A Cranberry Fruit Extract plus Vitamin C supplement may be a valuable addition to your daily wellness routine.†


† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


  1. HerbClip Online. Cranberry's Historical Usage. American Botanical Council, 31 Aug. 2012, http://herbalgram.org/resources/herbclip/herbclip-news/2012/cranberrys-historical-usage/.
  2. Neto CC, Vinson JA. Cranberry. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92762/.
  3. Chung KT, Wong TY, Wei CI, Huang YW, Lin Y. Tannins and human health: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1998;38(6):421-464. doi:10.1080/10408699891274273. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9759559/.
  4. FoodData Central, Cranberries, raw. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171722/nutrients. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171722/nutrients.
  5. Blumberg JB et. al. Cranberries and their bioactive constituents in human health. Adv Nutr. 2013 Nov 6;4(6):618-32. doi: 10.3945/an.113.004473. PMID: 24228191; PMCID: PMC3823508. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24228191/.

Authors

Amy Mills Klipstine

NatureMade Sr. Copywriter

Amy has an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University in Los Angeles and is a credentialed English teacher, though she left the classroom to write full time. She especially enjoys creating educational content about health, wellness, and nutrition. Her happy place is in the kitchen, and when not writing, you can find her trying out “kid-friendly recipes” and “healthy desserts for chocolate lovers” from her Pinterest board.

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Sandra Zagorin, MS, RD

Science and Health Educator

As a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team, Sandra educates healthcare professionals and consumers on nutrition, supplements, and related health concerns. Prior to joining Pharmavite, Sandra worked as a clinical dietitian at University of Chicago Medicine in the inpatient and outpatient settings. Sandra received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Science, with minors in Spanish and Chemistry from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. She earned her Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from RUSH University in Chicago, IL. As part of her Master’s program, Sandra performed research on physical activity participation and correlates in urban Hispanic women.

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