Cranberry Juice vs. Cranberry Cocktail: What's the Difference?

And are they interchangeable in recipes?

cranberry juice surrounded by fresh cranberries
Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

They're side-by-side on the juice aisle and their bottles look exactly the same, save for one little word — so what exactly is the difference between cranberry juice and cranberry juice cocktail?

Cranberry Juice vs. Cranberry Juice Cocktail

Cranberry juice is usually labeled "100% juice." Other fruits are sometimes added to balance the tart cranberry taste, but that label indicates that the product is made with 100% fruit juices. Cranberry juice cocktail, meanwhile, has added sugars or high-fructose corn syrup for extra sweetness.

The thing that sets the two juices apart is not added sugar, but where that sugar comes from. Cranberry juice's added sugar comes from the natural fruit juices that are added to sweeten the juice, while cranberry juice cocktail relies on refined sugars. The calorie count and vitamin C amount in both juices is roughly the same, but 100% juice contains more nutrients from the additional fruits.

Unless a drink recipe calls specifically for 100% cranberry juice or specifically for cranberry juice cocktail, you should be fine to use them interchangeably.

Is Cranberry Juice Good for You?

Cranberry juice is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin E.

Since cranberries contain phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory properties, some experts think consuming phytonutrients over time could promote heart health by delaying artery damage.

A 2019 study in overweight men showed that consuming a cranberry beverage every day for eight weeks improved several risk factors for heart disease, according to Healthline.

However, it's important to remember that most fruit juices have relatively high amounts of sugar. If you're watching your sugar intake, you should drink cranberry juice in moderation.

The best cranberry juice for you is pure and unsweetened.

Cranberry Juice and UTIs

You've likely heard that cranberry juice can help prevent and treat urinary tract infections. Here's why: Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, which some people believe can help prevent UTIs by stopping bacteria from growing and spreading.

However, many experts aren't convinced that this theory holds water. Some studies have found that it's an effective preventative and treatment, while others have found that it doesn't impact UTIs at all.

Cranberry Juice Recipes

Now, check out some of our favorite drink recipes that call for cranberry juice:

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