The Numerous Medicinal Benefits of Cherries Kept Secret

There are numerous varieties of cherries, and two main types grown commercially: sweet cherries and tart cherries. It is the tart cherry that has the bulk of the medicinal properties.

Anti-inflammatory

cherries_reduce_blood_uric_acid_levels_imageSome people believe tart cherries have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food. One reason cherries are so potent at reducing inflammation is they inhibit COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes (cyclooxygenase-1 and cyclooxygenase-2). These two enzymes are used in the human body to manufacture inflammatory prostaglandins.[1]

There was a three week, randomized, placebo-controlled study with twenty 40 to 70 year old females with inflammatory osteoarthritis (OA). All participants fulfilled the 1990 American College of Rheumatology classification guidelines for the diagnosis of osteoarthritis. For twenty-one days, one group ingested 10.5 fluid ounces of tart cherry juice and the other group ingested a placebo beverage. Both groups took the drink twice a day. Before and after the juice was consumed, blood measurements for inflammatory markers were taken (IL-6, IL-10, TNF-α, and CRP).[6] The study concluded that tart cherries provide beneficial anti-inflammatory activity helping OA patients manage their disease.

We’ve known for many years that cherries help prevent and reduce the pain and inflammation of gout. It is now proven that cherries lower uric acid and C-reactive protein levels in the human body, both of which are found to be elevated in people with gout. [7][8]

Antioxidant

All cherries contain antioxidants, but tart cherries contain higher amounts of anthocyanins and phenolic compounds.[2][3]

sour_cherries_have_fewer_calories_imageWorkout Recovery

Tart cherries can boost the recovery of muscle strength after intensive exercise. They actually exert pain-killing properties.[4][5] Studies now conclude that the phenols, anthocyanins, flavanols, and other compounds in tart cherries can provide protection against muscle injury by inhibiting inflammation.

Cardiovascular

Another wonderful benefit of eating cherries is that many scientific studies concluded that the anthocyanins found in cherries provide cardiovascular benefits to humans. [9]

Where to Find Tart Cherries

Unfortunately, fresh tart cherries are not usually sold in the produce section of markets. It seems the food stores focus on the more popular sweet cherries. Sweet cherries do have some medicinal properties, but not nearly as much as tart cherries.

Cherries do have a season just like many other fruits. So the easiest way to obtain tart cherry products is in the form of juice concentrates and nutritional supplements. These products are more stable than fresh cherries and can be stored in your house over extended periods for long term use.

Fresh Tart Cherries are Best

FD&C Red 40 (also known as Allura) is added to some cherry products, such as Maraschino cherries. This chemical dye has been banned in the following countries due to possible negative health effects: Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Norway, and Sweden. However, the FDA in America still considers the dye safe for children and adults.

Craig B Sommers, ND, CN

[1] Seeram NP, Momin RA, Nair MG, Bourquin LD. Cyclooxygenase inhibitory and antioxidant cyanidin glycosides in cherries and berries. Phytomedicine. 2001 Sep;8(5):362-9.

[2] Kim DO, Heo HJ, Kim YJ, Yang HS, Lee CY. Sweet and sour cherry phenolics and their protective effects on neuronal cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2005;53:9921-7

[3] Kim DO, Heo HJ, Kim YJ, Yang HS, Lee CY. Sweet and sour cherry phenolics and their protective effects on neuronal cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2005;53:9921-7.

[4] Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chesnutt JC. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. Journal Int Soc Sports. 2010;7:17.

[5] Connolly DAJ, McHugh MP, Padilla-Zakour OI. Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Br J Sports Med. 2006;40:679-83.

[6] http://www.abstractsonline.com/Plan/ViewAbstract.aspx?sKey=b6a564e0-6bca-40a4-8ce1-498a424916a7&cKey=bfeaa02d-3ed1-4fc8-86c3-6bb30ff4e373&mKey=%7BFCDB1C1C-280A-4DF1-95F8-2DAA9AB6A8BE%7D

[7] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/art.34677/abstract

[8] Martin KR, Bopp J, Burrell L, Hook G. The effect of 100% tart cherry juice on serum uric acid levels, biomarkers of inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk factors. FASEB J. April 2011;25 (Meeting Abstract Supplement):339.2.

[9] Ferretti G, Bacchetti T, Belleggia A, Neri D. Cherry antioxidants: from farm to table. Molecules. 2010 Oct 12;15(10):6993-7005. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12630561


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