Tart Cherries

August 23, 2012

Usually, when we discuss cherries, images of sweet, deep red cherries come to mind, and they're packed with goodness.  However, recent research from the Oregon Health & Science University focusing on tart cherries is worth some serious attention!  In fact, new research indicates that tart cherries have the strongest anti-inflammatory properties of all the various anti-inflammatory foods -- including  turmeric, salmon, green tea, blueberries, and broccoli -- and may be beneficial for reducing joint pain for those suffering from joint problems and arthritis. Participants in the Oregon study inclued 20 women aged 40 to 70 years old who had been diagnosed with inflammatory osteoarthritis with a least one episode of joint swelling during the last year. Half of the women drank 10-1/2 fluid ounces of tart cherry juice twice a day for three weeks while the other half drank artificial cherry juice with identical calorie content and flavor. After three weeks, the women who who drank the tart cherry juice suffered from significantly less inflammation than those who had been drinking the the artificial juice. An earlier study by the same researcher also found that people who drank tart cherry juice as part of a long-distance running training regime reported significantly less pain after exercise than those who did not drink the juice. Antioxidants aren't the only benefit of tart cherries!
  • They are a great source of antioxidants.
  • They're also a good source of melatonin, a naturally occurring compound found in the human body.  A 2011 study in the European Journal of Nutrition indicates adding tart cherry juice to the diet can help those who suffer from sleep disorders fall asleep AND stay asleep!
  • A 2009 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that obese rats' risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease were reduced significantly with the addition of tart cherries to their diets.  Studies with human participants are planned for the near future.
Tart cherries aren't popular as a stand-alone snack, so throw a handful in your smoothie or juice to add that great cherry flavor and the health benefits that comes with it to your favorite drink!

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