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Choose wisely with cranberry juice

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A glass of cranberry juice, surrounded by raw cranberries, seen from above.

The guy drinking cranberry juice while riding his longboard may be onto something.

Nathan Apodaca’s TikTok video, set to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” went viral. Then Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood did his own TikTok video, a tribute to the original, again drinking cranberry juice. It also went viral.

What is it about cranberry juice?

“The cranberry is a tiny but amazing fruit that is unique in the variety of health benefits it may provide,” says Sherry A. Tanumihardjo, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Indeed, cranberries, Wisconsin’s official state fruit:

  • Have antioxidants that may help guard against heart disease, cancer and other diseases
  • May help prevent urinary tract infections
  • May help prevent ulcers
  • Reduce the risk of gum disease
  • Are a healthy, low-calorie snack

That last point? There’s the distinction. Whole cranberries, rather than cranberry juice, provide the most nutritional value and thus the most health benefits. That’s something to remember on National Cranberry Day, which is Saturday, Nov. 21.

A cup of cranberry juice may have plenty of those valuable antioxidants, but it also has about 30 grams of sugar. A cup of dried, sweetened cranberries has about 26 grams of sugar.

What you’ll find in grocery stores are often cranberry juice cocktail blends. Some contain as much added sugar and other sweeteners as soft drinks.

A better option is a cranberry juice blend with “100% juice” or “100% real juice” on the label. Even at that, cranberry juice may make up only a small fraction of 100% juice blends. For example, a cranberry-pomegranate juice blend from one well-known brand is made up of apple, grape, plum, pear, cranberry and pomegranate juices – with no indication of how much of each kind of juice on the label. There’s still 26 grams of sugar in a cup of this blend, but that’s much less than in blends with added sugar.

Pure, unsweetened cranberry juice is best, a good source of vitamins C and E – both antioxidants. However, it has a naturally intense, acidic taste. It also can be hard to find, and it can be pricey.

At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice.

It's only right that you should play the way you feel it … as Fleetwood Mac says in “Dreams.”

A cranberry smoothie in a glass with cranberries floating on top. The glass is surrounded by cranberries on a wooden table and by a clear glass bowl of cranberries.

If you’re looking for a healthy cranberry beverage, try this.

Cranberry Smoothie


2 cups frozen cranberries

2 cups nonfat vanilla yogurt (other yogurts, such as Greek yogurt, can be used as desired)

2 cups 1% milk or almond milk

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons vanilla


Mix in blender until smooth.

Makes 6 smoothies.

Nutrition information per serving (with 1% milk): 150 calories, 10 calories from fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 1g total fat, 5mg cholesterol, 105mg sodium, 28g total carbohydrate, 24g sugars, 1g dietary fiber, 7g protein, 10% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C, 25% calcium, 0% iron.

Source: Cranberry Marketing Committee USA via Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association

Published: Sunday, November 1, 2020
Author: Jeff Ash