A new study has found that the best way to fight bacterial infections is to consume cranberry in the form of juice rather than extracts.
With scientific evidence now supporting the age-old wisdom that cranberries, whether in sauce or as juice, prevent urinary tract infections, people have wondered if there was an element of the berry that, if extracted and condensed, perhaps in pill form, would be as effective as drinking the juice or eating cranberry sauce.
Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute tested proanthocyanidins or PACs, a group of flavonoids found in cranberries. Because they were thought to be the ingredient that gives the juice its infection-fighting properties, PACs have been considered a hopeful target for an effective extract.
The new WPI report, however, shows that cranberry juice, itself, is far better at preventing biofilm formation, which is the precursor of infection, than PACs alone.
"What we have shown is that cranberry juice's ability to prevent biofilms is more complex than we may have originally thought," said Terri Camesano, professor of chemical engineering at WPI and senior author on the paper. "For a while, the field focused on these PACs, but the data shows that they aren't the silver bullet."
"Cranberries have been recognized for their health benefits for a number of years, especially in the prevention of UTIs," the authors write in the new paper.
"While the mechanisms of action of cranberry products on bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation are not fully understood...this study shows that cranberry juice is better at inhibiting biofilm formation than isolated A-type cranberry flavonoids and PACs, although the reasons for this are not yet clear."
The study will be published in the journal Food Science and Biotechnology.