Health Benefits of Cherries
The latest research conducted by the University of Michigan suggests even more reasons to EAT RED and choose cherries for heart-health benefits. Specifically, the study revealed a cherry-enriched diet may help lower body fat, total weight, inflammation and cholesterol – all major risk factors for heart disease. While inflammation is a normal process the body uses to fight off infection or injury, according to recent science, a chronic state of inflammation could increase the risk for diseases and may be especially common for those who are overweight or obese, at least in part because of excess weight around the middle.
This new research is the latest linking this red hot “Super Fruit” to protection against heart disease and inflammation. In this new animal study, at-risk obese rats fed a “Western diet” (high in fat, moderate carbohydrates) with tart cherry powder showed a significant decrease in body weight and fat while maintaining lean muscle mass. After twelve weeks, the cherry-fed rats had 14 percent lower body fat compared to the other rats (cherry-fed rats were approximately 54% body fat; rats eating the Western diet alone were 63% body fat). The cherry-enriched diets also reduced total cholesterol levels and two known markers of inflammation- both linked to increased risk for heart disease. The researchers suggested cherry consumption could have an effect on important fat genes and genetic expression.
The Antioxidant Power of Cherries
Antioxidant strength is measured in Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) units. ORAC measures how many oxygen radicals a specific food can absorb and deactivate. The more oxygen radicals a food absorbs, the higher its ORAC score. The higher the ORAC score, the better a food is at helping our bodies fight diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Nutritionists suggest that people consume 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units a day to have an impact on their health. Just one ounce of cherry juice concentrate supplies 3,622 ORAC units, about an entire day's recommendation.
Antioxidant Levels of Cherries
Cherry Juice Concentrate: 12,800 ORAC units
Dried Cherries: 6,800 ORAC units
Frozen Cherries: 2,033 ORAC units
Canned Cherries: 1,700 ORAC units
Arthritis / Inflammation
A growing body of science continues to show that cherry consumption may help relieve arthritis symptoms.
A recent study by University of Michigan researchers revealed a cherry-enriched diet reduced inflammation markers in animals by up to 50 percent. Other studies indicate that the anthocyanins in cherries may be beneficial for a range of inflammatory-related conditions, including arthritis.
Studies also suggest antioxidant-rich foods, like cherries, may help reduce levels of nitric oxide, a compound associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Good news for those looking for natural health solutions. In a recent survey most respondents said they’d prefer to eat or drink foods with health promoting properties over medical treatment or dietary supplements. Reducing joint pain and inflammation were among the priority conditions. Also in the survey, 81% of consumers said they’d add more cherries to their daily diet if they knew the health benefits were virtually equal to dietary supplements*.
“Arthritis pain can be very debilitating, limiting activity and overall quality of life,” says,” said Leslie Bonci, Director of Sports Medicine Nutrition in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. “As a registered dietitian, I like to recommend food as the first solution to good health. Cherries are great because they have these powerful anti-inflammatory properties and are easy and convenient to eat, from topping cereal or creating a smoothie.”
DISCLAIMER: the information posted on this site is meant solely to help educate people on the nutrition profile of tart cherries and provide an overview of the science supporting the potential health benefits of cherries. The information is not meant for individual prescription or to substitute for the advice of a physician or healthcare professional.