Here's what happens when you drink cranberry juice every day

Cranberry offers many health benefits, so it stands to reason that drinking cranberry juice every day would be good for you. Throughout history, cranberry juice has been used as a treatment for urinary problems, upset stomach, and liver problems (via Healthline). But, as with most things, there are good and bad sides to everyday consumption.

The biggest benefit from cranberries comes from eating the whole berry. However, there are still benefits to drinking cranberry juice. Unsweetened, pure cranberry juice, which is not the kind you buy in the grocery store from Ocean Spray, is a good source of vitamins C and E, which are both antioxidants. It provides 26 percent of the daily value of vitamin C, and 20 percent of the daily value of vitamin E. It also provides 15 percent of the daily value of copper, 11 percent of the daily value of vitamin K1, and 8 percent of the daily value of vitamin B6.

To gain health benefits from drinking cranberry juice every day, first make sure you are actually drinking cranberry juice, rather than cranberry juice cocktail, which has added sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup, and may only contain a fraction of actual cranberry juice. The label should say "100 percent real juice." 

The antioxidant and antibacterial benefits of the cranberry

Cranberries contain antioxidants, which help protect your body from cell damage as a result of free radicals that contribute to the aging process, and increase risk factors for the development of chronic diseases, such as cancer or heart disease. A 2011 study found that cranberries promoted better antioxidant levels the lower their pH, and that cranberries are much more potent antioxidants than cranberry juice, but that the juice did still have some benefits (via Medical News Today).

You may already know cranberry juice may help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). The thinking is cranberry juice offers antibacterial properties by reducing the colonization of bacteria in the bladder. Studies have shown drinking this potent juice may help to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections. Other studies are less conclusive, and so, it seems we don't know for sure if cranberry juice can prevent UTIs.

Meanwhile, a 2016 study found that cranberries can prevent Helicobacter pylori from growing and multiplying in the stomach lining, which can cause stomach ulcers. As such, people that are prone to stomach ulcers may benefit from drinking cranberry juice.

Cranberry juice and heart health

A benefit of cranberry juice with plenty of scientific research behind it is that this refreshing drink can have a positive effect on your heart health. The same study that looked at digestive benefits also acknowledges that cranberries have a positive effect on cholesterol levels and heart health. This may be because the berries contain phytonutrients that have anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a major contributing factor in heart problems, as it can damage blood vessels, including the arteries, which then attract plaque, and result in atherosclerosis, a form of heart disease. 

An encouraging study in 2019 showed that overweight men who drank low calorie cranberry juice every day for eight weeks demonstrated improved risk factors for heart disease in multiple areas, including increasing good cholesterol.

An additional study in 2011 found that females with metabolic syndrome (an increased risk of heart disease per the Mayo Clinic) who drank cranberry juice had increased antioxidants in their blood plasma. They also had lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol.

Other potential health benefits of cranberry juice

Cranberry juice has also been found to help keep your mouth healthy by preventing plaque (which causes gum disease) from accumulating on your teeth. Other benefits of drinking cranberry juice regularly include an increased ability to fight off infection from viruses and bacteria, and perhaps even from food-borne illness.

Post-menopausal women may also see a benefit from imbibing cranberry juice as a dietary supplement. Cranberries have also been shown to curb antibiotic resistance and boost circulation, lower blood pressure, and boost cognitive function (via Health). So it seems there's virtually no downside to drinking cranberry juice. If only that were true! Because nothing comes without a potential drawback, not even something as potently-powerful as might cranberry juice.

The potential downsides of cranberry juice

Some of the science on the health benefits of cranberry juice is inconclusive. And, there are some complications that can result from drinking cranberry juice to be aware of. The juice may interact with certain medications, including blood thinners. For that reason, it is best to discuss it with your doctor before adding cranberry juice to your daily diet.

If you are considering drinking cranberry juice every day for health benefits, it is worth considering that regular cranberry juice has three times as many calories as the actual berries, and a significantly higher sugar content (via BBC Good Food). While drinking the juice every day may give you some benefits, eating cranberries every day will give you more benefits, without the unhealthy sugar. 

If you choose to buy undiluted, unsweetened cranberry juice, know it's pretty expensive  — you'll spend anywhere between $7 and $12 on average (via The Kitchn). And no matter which brand, sweetened or unsweetened, you buy, drinking too much can give you an upset stomach.