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Is cranberry juice good for you? What experts want you to know

Research has shown cranberries offer all sorts of health benefits including preventing cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity and tooth decay.

But what about cranberry juice?

There’s a difference between pure, 100% cranberry juice and the cranberry cocktail that you might get in a vodka cran: The latter includes added (and usually refined) sugars, while pure cranberry juice just includes the fruit’s natural sugars.

Here’s what diet experts want you to know about the nutritional information for cranberry juice — and which kinds of juices are best for you.

Is cranberry juice good for you?

Cranberry juice does indeed offer various health benefits, primarily due to its high content of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. A couple specific benefits include inflammation reduction and heart health, registered dietitian Abbey Sharp tells USA TODAY.

Antioxidants have also been shown to help reduce inflammation, and there’s some research to suggest that they could improve cholesterol levels and reduce heart disease risk, Sharp adds.

Previously, cranberry juice was thought to be able to reduce risk of urinary tract inflammations (UTI) because of its ability to prevent bacteria from adhering to urinary tract walls. While some research suggests it may help younger women who experience repeat UTIs, other studies have shown no UTI-related benefits.

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When should you not drink cranberry juice?

Cranberry juice is usually high in sugar, which Sharp notes that when consumed excessively, can have health implications including “weight gain, dental caries and an increased risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

She also warns that those with acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and tooth sensitivity may experience exacerbated symptoms after drinking cranberry juice due to the acidity. Cranberry juice may also interact with certain medications, including blood thinners or medications for acid reflux or ulcers.

What is the healthiest juice?

If you’re looking to maximize health benefits and minimize downsides, Sharp recommends going for a vegetable-based juice or a juice or smoothie with the fruit’s fibers still in tact, such as orange juice with pulp.

The main difference between eating a piece of fruit and drinking fruit juice is that the latter usually removes the fruit’s fiber, which is what helps slow down the body’s blood sugar response, Sharp notes. That doesn’t make one better or worse, but experts note that pairing a non-fibrous fruit juice with a more balanced meal containing fiber, protein and/or fat can help better regulate the blood sugar and deliver a higher quality of nutrition.

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But overall, diet experts wants to remind people that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to eating healthy.

“​​The healthiest food in any category will depend on you, your budget, your culture, your health goals, and so much more,” registered dietitian Miranda Galati previously told USA TODAY. “It’s amazing to make more nutrient-dense choices when possible, but choosing the more processed or convenient option isn’t always a bad thing either. As a registered dietitian who wants you to build a healthy lifestyle that lasts, I’d recommend ditching the idea that there’s a healthiest version of anything.”

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