Cranberries probably conjure up memories of gorging on grandma’s cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving dinner (drool emoji, but I’m told we can’t put emojis in this).
But did you know these fruity guys have potent health benefits?
Today, we review the research on cranberry extract and the 9 best cranberry supplements out there today.
Cranberry extract is a health supplement made from powdered cranberry fruit concentrate.
These tart, red berries come from the Vaccinium macrocarpon vine native to North America. Native Americans were huge fans of cranberries as food, medicine, and even natural dye (that’s why cranberries feature so heavily at Thanksgiving).
Now, scientists think cranberry’s health benefits are down to bioactive A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs).
Cranberry extract is famous as a natural UTI remedy. I’m 99.5% sure it is the reason you’re here looking for the best cranberry supplement (more on that soon).
These uncomfortable infections are the result of E. coli. bacteria, affecting millions of people annually (but mostly women).
So, is cranberry all it’s cracked up to be for UTIs?
Research suggests bioactive PACs in cranberries have natural antimicrobial properties. They attach to E. coli., preventing the bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract. If they can’t congregate, they can’t proliferate and cause UTIs.
A 2017 meta-analysis of 7 randomized controlled trials found cranberry extract reduced the risk of UTIs in women with recurrent infections. And more recent research suggests it may even minimize antibiotic use (win!).
Cranberries may also reduce lower urinary tract symptoms common in older men (oh, the joys of aging).
Overall, cranberry supplements may be more useful for preventing UTIs than treating active infections.
Note: If you’re experiencing severe UTI symptoms, please see a doctor. You don’t want to mess around with these things and may need an antibiotic.
(Skip to the end of the article for more cranberry health benefits)
Here’s our list of the best cranberry extract supplements. They are all made according to Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) for quality and safety.
*Note: We have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you buy from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
Sports Research Cranberry Concentrate uses Pacran® formulated from premium whole cranberries rich in naturally occurring proanthocyanidins (PACs).
Each serving offers 500 mg of cranberry concentrate in a 50:1 ratio. It’s the equivalent of eating 12,500 mg of fresh cranberries (without the added sugar and calories). Plus, you get 100 mg of vitamin C for added antioxidant support.
A bottle of 90 soft gels costs just $19.49 and will last 45 days if you take 2 caps daily.
In addition to cGMP standards, Sports Research Cranberry Concentrate is also Igen non-GMO and gluten-free.
Natural Factors CranRich® capsules provide 500 mg of potent cranberry powder in a 36:1 concentration ratio.
Natural Factors products are third-party tested for purity, potency, and safety by ISURA. This is an independent Canadian natural health product verification and certification organization.
You can pick this up from iHerb in bottles of either 90 or 180 capsules. iHerb often has daily specials to sweeten the deal!
NOW Cranberry with PACs delivers 1 gram of cranberry extract rich in bioactive proanthocyanidins. You also get 300 mg of uva ursi and 45 mg of grape seed extract per serving for added urinary tract support.
The capsules are certified non-GMO, kosher, and free from gluten and soy. However, a bottle will only last one month as the serving size is three capsules.
NOW is a cGMP quality-assured brand. The company has a range of third-party quality and purity certifications.
NOW Mannose and Cranberry is a dual-action formula to maximize the urinary tract benefits.
It combines cranberry extract with a natural sugar called D-mannose. D-mannose works in the same way as PACs, attaching to E. coli bacteria and washing them out via urine.
Each 2-capsule serving has:
Research shows cranberry and D-mannose may increase the efficacy of antibiotics used to treat UTIs. They may also reduce antibiotic‑resistant UTIs.
Nature’s Way Urinary Formula contains a synergistic blend of herbs to support urinary tract health.
A serving contains:
This product is Certified Authentic TRU-ID. It’s an independent certification program using DNA technology to certify the authenticity and potency of each ingredient.
Azo Cranberry delivers 500 mg of Pacran per serving.
It’s the equivalent of 1 glass of pure cranberry juice or 25,000 mg of fresh cranberries. As a bonus, you get 120 mg of vitamin C.
Life Extension Cran-Max® provides clinically studied whole cranberry fruit concentrate.
The unique extraction process retains proanthocyanidin compounds from the fruit. One 500 mg serving is the equivalent of drinking four 8-ounce glasses of cranberry juice (without all the sugar or needing to pee every five minutes).
This product is also vegan-friendly, sugar-free, gluten-free, and certified non-GMO. You take one capsule daily, so it should last two months.
Natrol Cranberry provides 250 mg of Cran-Max per two tablets. Cran-Max is a clinically tested cranberry concentrate. The antioxidant content is three times that of cranberry juice (and it has 25% more fiber).
The tablets are vegetarian-friendly and fast-dissolving, allowing the active compounds to reach your bloodstream ASAP.
You need to understand how we ranked these products to make the best decision for your needs.
Here are the main factors we considered when making our list.
The FDA doesn’t regulate the supplement industry, allowing unscrupulous companies to make unproven claims about their products.
We only select reputable companies that adhere to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations and subject their products to third-party testing. Several companies offer their Certificates of Analysis (COA) on their website.
We chose concentrated cranberry products containing active proanthocyanidins.
We’re also aware most people use cranberry extract for UTIs. We included a few products with supportive ingredients – like NOW Cranberry with PACs, NOW Mannose Cranberry, and Nature’s Way Urinary Formula.
While there is no official dose for cranberry extract, we looked for products supplying 500–1000 mg per serving. This is in line with most studies.
Natrol Cranberry tablets offer 250 mg per serving for those looking for a lower dose.
We want health to be accessible to everyone. So, we look for supplements that are high-quality and affordable.
It’s no surprise cranberry extract – with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant polyphenols – supports your ticker.
A 2020 systematic review found supplementing with cranberry reduced systolic blood pressure (the force your heart exerts when it beats). It also increases the “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – this carries other types of cholesterol to the liver for removal.
Another study found cranberry juice may decrease oxidized-LDL cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol damages your arteries, so you want those guys gone!
Promising research shows compounds in cranberries support the gut microbiome (the trillions of healthy microorganisms in your digestive tract).
Xyloglucans found in cranberries may have prebiotic properties. Prebiotics feed the “good” bacteria in the gut, allowing them to support a healthy microbiome.
Cranberry extract may also reduce harmful, pathogenic bacteria like Helicobacter pylori and E. coli.
It sounds counterintuitive for cranberries to improve blood sugar, right?!
However, anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins in cranberries are associated with blood sugar regulation.
This 2013 study found consuming powdered cranberries reduced cold and flu symptoms. However, it didn’t prevent infections.
That said, we need more research before recommending cranberry extract for immunity.
Cranberry extract is well-tolerated, but it may not suit everyone.
It’s not ideal for those with salicylate sensitivity as it’s a source of salicylic acid. It may also increase the risk of calcium oxalate and uric acid kidney stones in susceptible people.
These side effects are rare, but you should talk to your health professional to see if cranberry extract is for you.