Despite its high sugar content, women have reached for a glass of cranberry juice for years, under the guise that the ruby-red drink could help reduce the symptoms or risk of contracting a urinary tract infection. If you're among those who add cranberry juice to your cart for health reasons, a Vox article suggests you're being duped.
Here's why: This week, the health benefits of cranberry juice have been in the headlines thanks to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Its research found that drinking the red juice lowered the number of clinical UTI episodes in women with a recent history of infections. The catch? Vox points out the study was not only funded by Ocean Spray, the world's leading producer of cranberry juices, but also co-authored by its staff scientists—meaning the brand was involved in every stage of the research.
According to the study, a glass of cranberry juice a day reduced UTIs by nearly 40% in women, a surprisingly high statistic. Yet an independent review by Cochrane found that in order for the bacteria-fighting compounds found in cranberry juice to have an effect, "people would have to continuously drink the juice twice a day in serving of 150 ml for an indefinite period of time." It concluded that while small studies suggest cranberry juice could offer benefits for women who regularly suffer from UTIs, the claim remains largely unsubstantiated.
Another red flag is that participants involved in this study had "symptomatic UTIs." In other words, the trial group included women who reported UTI symptoms but didn't actually test positive for a higher-than-normal bacteria count. Jonathan Craig, co-author of the Cochrane review and a clinical epidemiology professor at the University of Sydney, calls the study "smoke and mirrors."
If you're looking for a way to prevent a UTI, the Mayo Clinic recommends drinking water. Upping your liquid consumption "allows bacteria to be flushed from your urinary tract before an infection can begin." What's more, it's sugar-free. As for that spare bottle of cranberry juice in your cart? Its best use just may be in a cocktail.
Keep a carafe on your desk to stay hydrated throughout the workday: