Here at the Daily Health weâ€™ve written a lot about the numerous health benefits and antioxidant power of tart cherries (Prunus cerasus). Their potent anti- inflammatory properties make them beneficial for relieving gout pain and for aiding muscle recovery after exercise.
Acute inflammation is part of the body’s protective response to injuries, infections and other irritants, but long-term low grade inflammation puts you at risk of serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Tart Cherriesâ€™ amazing potential to lower disease risk
Now, new research, reported on at the Experimental Biology annual meeting in California last month, adds even more evidence to support cherries ability to alleviate inflammation.
In one study, 10 overweight or obese men and women were provided with 8 ounces of tart cherry juice or a placebo beverage daily for four weeks. The results were encouraging. Participants, drinking the cherry juice, showed significant reductions in known markers of inflammation and lower levels of triglycerides (blood fats) and LDL cholesterol – both known risk factors for heart disease.
Researcher, Dr. Mitch Seymour, who led an animal study at the University of Michigan, in which tart cherries were again found to lower inflammation, said: â€œChronic inflammation is a whole body condition that can affect overall health, especially when it comes to the heart. This study offers further promise that foods rich in antioxidants, such as cherries, could potentially reduce inflammation and have the potential to lower disease risk.”
The power of Cherries: Itâ€™s been a long time coming
Back in June 2007 we reported on the remarkable antioxidant power of tart cherries. In that article we focused on the much-needed pain relief cherries can bring to gout, osteo and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers as well as fibromyalgia sufferers.
With the latest research supporting what we said back in 2007, we see a bright future for tart cherries especially as a safe, natural and effective alternative for relieving pain.
Hereâ€™s a quick recap for anyone who missed the 2007 article:
To start with, tart cherries can aid muscle recovery following exercise. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that strength loss and pain following exercise were significantly less in the cherry juice trial compared to the placebo trial. Most notably, strength loss averaged over the four days after exercise was 22 per cent with the placebo but only 4 per cent with the cherry juice-drinkers.
Several earlier studies have confirmed that tart cherries offer benefits for patients with autoimmune, neurodegenerative and connective tissue diseases, particularly rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. Studies show that tart cherries not only reduce pain and inflammation but also offer protection against cancer. These effects are attributed to the high amounts of plant phytochemicals, known as anthocyanins, they contain.
Research has shown that a diet containing cherries is beneficial in reducing the risk of colon cancer. When researchers fed a diet containing tart cherries, anthocyanins, or cyanidin (a non-sugar breakdown product of anthocyanins) to mice with a genetic susceptibility to colon cancer, the animals developed significantly fewer and smaller colon tumours. This study also revealed that these compounds effectively reduced the growth of two human colon cancer cell lines.
The cancer-protective benefits of this fruit were validated in another experimental study, in which cherry fruit extract reduced the growth of both human colon cancer cells and human breast cancer cells in a dose-dependent fashion.
Researchers have suggested that a possible mechanism by which cherries may confer these benefits is through shutting down the growth of cancer cells by depriving them of the proteins they need to grow.
Cherries: Supporting melatonin levels and brain health
Tart cherries are one of the few food sources of melatonin, a chemical released in the body by the pineal gland that is closely connected with the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin also acts as a powerful antioxidant, providing neuro-protective and immune-modulating effects.
Ongoing scientific studies are demonstrating how foods naturally rich in melatonin â€“ like Montmorency cherries â€“ can help sufferers of insomnia gain deep, restful sleep.
Tart cherries are also rich in phenolic compounds, which have strong neuro-protective activity. In a laboratory setting, cherry phenolics protected neuronal cells from cell-damaging oxidative stress in a dose-dependent manner. Tart cherry compounds may therefore play an important role in protecting ageing adults against neurodegenerative conditions such as memory loss, senile dementia, and perhaps even Alzheimerâ€™s disease.
Cherries: Give it to me!
Inspired by this remarkable fruit, John Carey developed a product called CherryActive â€“ which won the Natural Trade Show 2007 award for best product in the supplements and remedies category.
CherryActive is made with Montmorency cherries, which are grown in the northern US states. According to scientific analysis, there are at least 17 antioxidants in Montmorency cherries, including proanthocyanins from the flavonoid family, superoxide dismutase (a powerful enzyme and cellular antioxidant), and melatonin â€“ one of the most potent known antioxidants ever discovered.
CherryActive capsules contain about one hundred powdered Montmorency cherries per capsule, with a recommended dose of one to two 500mg capsules daily.
There are no contraindications associated with CherryActive. However, if you are on existing medication itâ€™s always wise to consult your GP before use.
Hereâ€™s a comment one of our regular readers left on our website, after discovering CherryActive:
â€œI found Cherry Active on the internet, having suffered a severe attack of Gout I called John Carey at cherry active to ask about the cherry active concentrate & acting on his advice I ordered some concentrate. My gout problems were a thing of the past. I also found drinking the concentrate improved the quality of my sleep. Cherry active concentrate is an amazing product & the service provided by John Carey is superb. I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me.â€
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Tart Cherries May Reduce Inflammation & Cut Risk of Heart Disease
Tart Cherries May Reduce Inflammation & Cut Risk of Heart Disease, published online 02.05.10, trusted.md/blog
Olsson ME, Gustavsson KE, Andersson S, Nilsson A, Duan RD. Inhibition of cancer cell proliferation in vitro by fruit and berry extracts and correlations with antioxidant levels. J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Dec 1;52(24):7264-71.
Kang SY, Seeram NP, Nair MG, Bourquin LD. Tart cherry anthocyanins inhibit tumor development in Apc(Min) mice and reduce proliferation of human colon cancer cells. Cancer Lett. 2003 may 8;194(1):13-9
Kim DO, Heo HJ, Kim YJ, Yang HS, Lee CY. Sweet and sour cherries phenolics and their protective effects on neuronal cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Dec 28;53(26):9921-7.
Br J Sports Med. 2006 Aug;40(8):679-83
Powerful Pain Relief, Cancer Defense, and Neuroprotection, by Steve Goodman, published online December 2007, search.lef.org