According to a new study by researchers at the University of Chile, cranberry juice, often used to prevent and treat urinary tract infections, also may be useful in combating the common stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Found in approximately 30 percent of the U.S. population, H. pylori can cause gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), ulcers, and even stomach cancer. In the study, one group of schoolchildren who tested positive for H. pylori was given 200 ml of cranberry juice daily for three weeks, while another group was given a placebo. Almost 17 percent of the children in the cranberry group tested negative for H. pylori after the study, compared with only 1.5 percent of the children in the placebo group. The researchers attribute cranberry juice's bacteria-fighting power to polyphenols — antioxidants that reduce inflammation and prevent bacteria from colonizing the stomach lining. In addition to drinking unsweetened cranberry juice, you can add fresh or dried cranberries to muffins, cereal, salads, and rice dishes.
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