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Cranberries show versatility with assist from some helpful bacteria.
Long championed as urinary tract infection (UTI) fighters, cranberries have made some incredible strides over the last couple of years. From the discovery of a breakthrough method to measure hidden insoluble proathocyanidins (PACs), to new studies on cranberry’s potential benefits on oral health, it seems everywhere you turn there’s a new cranberry product with a different health purpose. PAC may soon even become something of a buzzword among consumers, as helped along by the national marketing of Ocean Spray’s new PACt cranberry extract water.
One of the more unexpected directions for cranberries is a recent turn into the realm of probiotics. Cranberry ingredient supplier Fruit d’Or Nutraceuticals (Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, QC, Canada) recently partnered with suppliers Sabinsa Corp. (East Windsor, NJ) and UAS Laboratories (Eden Prairie, MN) to launch two separate finished products based on the possible synergistic benefits of cranberry ingredients and certain probiotic strains.
A New Prebiotic?
Believe it or not, in certain cases cranberry seed powder could be a more effective probiotic food source than conventional prebiotics. At least that’s the theory behind LactoCran, a new finished product for gut health that combines Fruit d’Or’s CranNaturelle cranberry seed powder as a prebiotic with Sabinsa’s LactoCran Bacillus coagulans probiotic strain.
The companies are still in the early stages of determining the exact mechanism behind LactoCran’s synbiotic nature, but it may have something to do with the 50% fiber and up to 25% protein in Fruit d’Or’s cranberry seed powder, according to Stephen Lukawski, Fruit d’Or, director, business development and sales.
“All we know is [LactoSpore’s] feeding off what’s in that cranberry material and helping that strain become more active in its growth,” says Lukawski. “This is a major breakthrough. We had no idea that the seed powder would have this effect on the growth activity of that particular strain. This opens up a whole new door of new science and research-new product opportunities.”
On its own, LactoSpore has shown probiotic benefits on GI tract health, according to Anurag Pande, PhD, Sabinsa’s vice president of scientific affairs. However, in-house in vitro studies seem to show that CranNaturelle cranberry powder may enhance LactoSpore’s ability to overcome colonic resistance, proliferate, and eliminate pathogenic bacteria, according to Pande. He adds that these studies included a head-to-head comparison with popular prebiotic fructo-oligosaccharides.
The latest study shows that “this combination is an excellent synbiotic, which helps in healthy bacterial growth in Bacillus coagulans, as seen in the preliminary studies, compared to Fructo-oligosaccharides,” says Pande.
Plans for human clinical studies are “on the horizon” for patent-pending LactoCran, says Pande. The new synbiotic is designed for use in food, beverages, and dietary supplements, according to the companies.
A Dual Approach
Another new cranberry application with a different approach is UP4 Women’s probiotic supplement, which combines CranNaturelle cranberry powder with select probiotic strains from UAS Labs in a product designed for female vaginal and urinary tract health. Instead of acting as a prebiotic, the cranberry PACs in UP4 Women’s are intended to remove harmful E. coli bacteria through anti-adhesion action, clearing the way for the probiotic strains to work more effectively.
Initial results from a preliminary in vitro study by UAS Labs suggest the PACs and probiotics work effectively in conjunction without negative interaction, according to Gregory Leyer, PhD, chief scientific officer, UAS Labs. However, it still remains to be seen whether there will be an enhanced effect from the combination. UAS Labs says it intends to move forward with more in vitro studies, as well as a human intervention trial in 2015.
UP4 features four distinct Lactobacillus strains, as well as Bifidobacterium lactis. It is important to note that these combinations of cranberry and probiotic ingredients are specifically tied to certain strains and manufacturers.
Nutritional Outlook magazine
Photo © iStockphoto.com/nsilcock