Research conducted by Tel Aviv University professor Itzhak Ofek and his colleagues is revealing a surprising array of benefits for cranberries. Long known to be helpful for the prevention of urinary tract infections, Dr Ofek has discovered that cranberry juice can help prevent cavities, fight influenza, and reduce the recurrence of gastric ulcers.
However, the berries appear to provide a greater benefit to women than men.
Cranberries: Separating the good from the bad
A letter published back in the May 1991 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine discussed Dr Ofek’s team’s finding that a compound found in the berries known as non-dialysable material or NDM appears to coat some of the body’s surfaces which prevents the adherence of infectious agents while not affecting the body’s beneficial bacteria.
Dr Ofek said: “We understood that there was something in cranberry juice that doesn’t let infections adhere to a woman’s bladder. We figured it was a specific inhibitor and proved this to be the case.”
Following this work, a trial at Tel Aviv University’s School of Dental Medicine revealed other benefits for the berry. ‘We found that NDM inhibits adhesion of oral bacteria to tooth surfaces and as a consequence reduced the bacterial load that causes cavities in the mouth.” Dr Ofek explained.
And in the June, 2007 issue of Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, an article coauthored by Dr Ofek describes the effect of cranberries on the eradication of H. Pylori, the bacteria that causes ulcers, when combined with standard drug treatment. The report concluded that, ‘The addition of cranberry to triple therapy improves the rate of H. pylori eradication in females.’
“The whole thing with cranberries seems to be female-oriented,” Dr Ofek noted. “The take-home message is that God created this fruit with a polyphenolic material. We still don’t know its chemical formula, but it seems to target a fraction of bacteria and viruses.”
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