New evidence has shown yet another beneficial effect of cranberries. We have known for years that cranberries prevent and treat bladder infections. Taking cranberry extract or drinking cranberry juice can have a significant effect on the symptoms of bladder infections. Cranberries, like many other plants, contain proanthocyanidins that can block bacteria and prevent them from binding to the body’s cells.
Now, researchers have discovered that cranberries also block Haemophilus influenzae bacteria that cause ear infections and meningitis. This effect of cranberries was observed in test tubes, not clinically, but taking cranberry extract is harmless and may be beneficial for children, especially those prone to ear infections.
We know that breastfeeding helps to protect children from meningitis caused by Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib). The longer a baby breastfeeds, the lower the risk of Hib meningitis. This protection persists even five to ten years after children have stopped breastfeeding. We may now have another tool that works preventively for these dangerous bacteria.
Parents can easily give cranberry extract, available in capsules at most health food stores, or organic, frozen cranberry concentrate in a smoothie or mixed into yogurt or applesauce. Cranberry juice is usually prepared with significant amounts of sugar or grape juice, which tends to kill the appetite for other nutritious foods and contribute to health problems (dental caries, low blood sugar, and digestive problems). So go easy on the juice, but don’t forget cranberries as a preventive tool.