Cranberry juice and IBS

Cranberry juice, with its sweet and tart taste, is best known for its urinary health properties. Now when I say cranberry juice, this isn’t the cranberry juice cocktail that I’m referring to. This is pure, unsweetened cranberry juice. Other processed versions of this juice can be full of sweeteners with very little cranberry, in turn not making it very beneficial for health. Pure cranberry juice can also be great for digestive health too. Let’s learn a bit more about cranberry juice and how it can help those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

About irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), is a condition of the large intestine that involves the trigger of digestive symptoms after eating certain foods. Such symptoms include abdominal pain, cramping, gas, bloating, as well as diarrhea and/or constipation. There is no known cause of this condition, but the symptoms can be triggered by certain foods, stress, or hormones.

Those that are stressed or on their menstrual period have been found to experience more IBS symptoms than others. Also, consuming certain foods that contain FODMAPs, or fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. This is called the low FODMAP diet and research shows it can significantly reduce symptoms in those with IBS.

Cranberry juice nutrition

Cranberry juice is a sweet and tart juice whose fruit origin has antioxidant and antibacterial properties. These qualities are why it has been helpful to some with urinary tract infections. It is important not to confuse cranberry juice with cranberry juice cocktail.

Cranberry juice cocktail can contain about 140 calories and 30 grams of sugar per cup, which may include sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup. On the other hand, unsweetened cranberry juice, if it is made purely from cranberries and no other added sugars or preservatives can be less than 10 grams of sugar per cup.

Cranberry juice and IBS

Research shows that the anthocyanin antioxidants in cranberries may help reduce symptoms in those with digestive conditions like inflammatory bowel disease. This shows promise that these same properties may warrant cranberry juice to help those with IBS. Cranberry juice, according to Monash University, is considered a low FODMAP food product. One cup or 250 milliliters of cranberry juice is considered low FODMAP.

It’s important to remember though that some cranberry juice products may contain high FODMAP juice concentrates for extra flavor, so you should read the ingredient label before purchasing. Such common high FODMAP ingredients found in some cranberry juice products include high fructose corn syrup, apple juice concentrate, or pear juice concentrate.

Therefore, look for cranberry juice whose ingredient list only contains cranberries or cranberry juice concentrate with filtered water. This pure form of cranberry juice will provide the most concentrated form of cranberry juice and in turn will add more antioxidant power to your daily routine.

Important FODMAP facts about cranberries

Just because cranberry juice is low FODMAP in most forms, this does not mean that all cranberry food products are safe for those with IBS. Monash University reports that dried cranberries are only low FODMAP in a one tablespoon serving. Any more than this has levels of fructans that are considered higher FODMAP. One and a half tablespoon of dried cranberries is considered moderate FODMAP, while two tablespoons or more is considered high FODMAP. However, Monash University released a statement saying that 130 grams, or about 4.5 ounces of fresh cranberries are considered low FODMAP.

Take home message

Cranberries can add a great source of antioxidants to your diet, and fortunately they are considered low FODMAP in a small serving. Cranberry juice is a great way to receive health benefits from cranberries in a convenient form that you can drink with your breakfast meal or dd to your morning smoothie for a sweet and tart flavor. Just be sure to read the ingredient label to ensure you purchase a cranberry juice product that is pure and free from added sugars and preservatives for the most health benefits.

For more information on how to relieve your IBS symptoms, visit the Casa de Sante website.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD of

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