Cranberry extract can help to create an “anti-inflammatory environment” and reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, a new study has shown.

Researchers say the small berry can help counter the negative effects of a Western diet.

Cranberries – along with all berries – contain a high level of polyphenols, which are linked to a number of health benefits.

In addition, they contain large concentrations of small fibres – oligosaccharides – which are believed to add to their bioactivity.

The Canadian study by Université Laval and the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods (INAF) found that these polyphenols and oligosaccharides boost Bifidobacterium, a bacteria linked to a lower risk of diabetes and cardiometabolic diseases.

Researchers say that normally, these bacteria are stimulated by dietary fibre consumption, but they saw the same effect with cranberry extract with a dose almost 20 times lower.

In addition, the research team found that cranberry extracts stimulate the Akkermansia muciniphila bacterium, a key player in intestinal mucosa which can reduce inflammation and bolster the intestinal barrier.

This is significant with regards to warding off the damaging effects of a Western diet.

Yves Desjardins, professor at the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, explained: “This diet alters the microbiota, causes inflammation of the mucosa, and compromises the integrity of the intestinal barrier, which plays a crucial role in protecting the body from bacteria present in the gut.

“Alteration of the intestinal barrier allows the passage of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) derived from the intestinal microbiota, known as metabolic endotoxemia, and is a crucial factor in the onset and progression of inflammation and metabolic diseases.

“The constant inflammation that results from the presence of LPS in the body can lead to several chronic diseases, including diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.”

The research team found that cranberry extracts can alter the inflammatory pathway and when it comes to chronic disease, it can improve prognosis.

The study saw 40 people consume a cranberry supplement twice a day for four days. The capsule is equivalent to eating 60 grams of cranberries.

Researchers described the effects seen within just four days as “promising”.

Read more in npj Biofilms and Microbiomes.

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