Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2013 Nov 6;4(6):618-32.
doi: 10.3945/an.113.004473. eCollection 2013 Nov.

Cranberries and Their Bioactive Constituents in Human Health

Free PMC article

Cranberries and Their Bioactive Constituents in Human Health

Jeffrey B Blumberg et al. Adv Nutr. .
Free PMC article


Recent observational and clinical studies have raised interest in the potential health effects of cranberry consumption, an association that appears to be due to the phytochemical content of this fruit. The profile of cranberry bioactives is distinct from that of other berry fruit, being rich in A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs) in contrast to the B-type PACs present in most other fruit. Basic research has suggested a number of potential mechanisms of action of cranberry bioactives, although further molecular studies are necessary. Human studies on the health effects of cranberry products have focused principally on urinary tract and cardiovascular health, with some attention also directed to oral health and gastrointestinal epithelia. Evidence suggesting that cranberries may decrease the recurrence of urinary tract infections is important because a nutritional approach to this condition could lower the use of antibiotic treatment and the consequent development of resistance to these drugs. There is encouraging, but limited, evidence of a cardioprotective effect of cranberries mediated via actions on antioxidant capacity and lipoprotein profiles. The mixed outcomes from clinical studies with cranberry products could result from interventions testing a variety of products, often uncharacterized in their composition of bioactives, using different doses and regimens, as well as the absence of a biomarker for compliance to the protocol. Daily consumption of a variety of fruit is necessary to achieve a healthy dietary pattern, meet recommendations for micronutrient intake, and promote the intake of a diversity of phytochemicals. Berry fruit, including cranberries, represent a rich source of phenolic bioactives that may contribute to human health.

Conflict of interest statement

Author disclosures: The Cranberry Institute offered support for this article by providing an honorarium to each author, except J. A. Vita. J. A. Vita reports no conflicts of interest. The Cranberry Institute is a not-for-profit trade association of companies that handle, process, and sell cranberries, with the mission to support cranberry growers and the industry through health, agricultural, and environmental stewardship research, as well as cranberry promotion and education. J. B. Blumberg and H. Sies are members of the Scientific Advisory Board of the U.S. Cranberry Marketing Committee, an instrumentality of the Agriculture Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is a free access article, distributed under terms ( that permit unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cranberry bioactives. R in each structure indicates a point of variation within that class of bioactives, and these variations are defined underneath each structure.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 37 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. USDA; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th ed. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office; 2010 - PMC - PubMed
    1. Paredes-López O, Cervantes-Ceja ML, Vigna-Pérez M, Hernández-Pérez T. Berries: improving human health and healthy aging, and promoting quality life—a review. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2010;65:299–308 - PubMed
    1. Côté J, Caillet S, Doyon G, Sylvain JF, Lacroix M. Bioactive compounds in cranberries and their biological properties. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010;50:666–79 - PubMed
    1. Basu A, Lyons TJ. Stawberries, blueberries, and cranberries in the metabolic syndrome: clinical perspectives. J Agric Food Chem. 2012;60:5687–92 - PubMed
    1. Wang CH, Fang CC, Chen NC, Liu SS, Yu PH, Wu TY, Lee CC, Chen SC. Cranberry-containing products for prevention of urinary tract infections in susceptible populations: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172:988–96 - PubMed

Publication types

MeSH terms