HEALTH + NUTRITION
You already know how delicious cherries taste, but are you aware of the health benefits they offer?
Containing only 90 calories per cup, they are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, boron (a mineral that plays an essential role in bone health, especially for women) and fiber.
Cherries are rich in phytonutrients such as quercetin and anthocyanidins. People who have the highest intakes of quercetin-containing foods were found to have a lower risk of asthma, and a lower incidence of lung cancer. Anthocyanidins, which produce the red hue in cherries, help maintain heart and urinary tract health, memory function, and lower the risk of some cancers.
Cherries Fight Inflammation
Cherries are known for their ability to control inflammation. A growing body of scientific research indicates that inflammation contributes to diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and obesity.
A study from the University of California at Davis found that regular consumption of cherries for 28 days produced a decrease in biochemical signs of inflammation in blood, including a 25 percent reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP), the most widely studied marker of inflammation. Elevation of CRP in blood is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Results of a preliminary study by U.S. Agriculture Research Service scientists and their university colleagues suggest that some natural compounds in plump, juicy cherries may reduce painful arthritic inflammation. Eating cherries may also help lessen the severity of other inflammatory conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or cancer.
Are Cherries Better Than Aspirin for Pain?
According to research done at Michigan State University, the anthocyanins that give cherries their colour could also help relieve pain more effectively than aspirin. The study found that anthocyanins were potent antioxidants that could prevent oxidative damage and also inhibited enzymes called cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 (Cox 1 and 2), which is similar in the way anti-inflammatory drugs seek to reduce pain.
The study appeared in the Journal of Natural Products published by the American Chemical Society.
Lead researcher Muralee G. Nair, Ph.D., Professor at Michigan State University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, noted about this cherry effect “It is as good as ibuprofen and some of the nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs.” Nair said that his lab results indicate that consuming 20 tart cherries could provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
Cherry Juice for Workout Recovery
A presentation at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference found that drinking tart cherry juice helped reduce pain after exercise for long distance runners. This research, from the Oregon Health & Science University, indicated that cherries could act like medications that runners use to reduce inflammation after workouts.
Publishing their findings in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the researchers explain:
“Considering the natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacity of tart cherries, it is plausible that cherry consumption before and during strenuous exercise may have a protective effect to reduce muscle damage and pain.”
“For most runners, post-race treatment consists of RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) and traditional NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs),” said Kerry Kuehl, M.D., a sports medicine physician and principal study investigator, who added: “But NSAIDS can have adverse effects — negative effects you may be able to avoid by using a natural, whole food alternative, like cherry juice, to reduce muscle inflammation before exercise.” Please see references below for the link to the full text of this study.
Cherries Help to Lower Blood Sugar
Cherries contain naturally occurring chemicals called anthocyanins, which early laboratory studies at Michigan State University indicate may help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Cherries and Gout
Another study from the University of California at Davis found that a single dose of cherries reduced the blood level of uric acid in healthy women. Excess uric acid causes gout, a very painful type of arthritis. The use of cherries to prevent gout is well established in Western folk medicine.