Cherries are a superfood. They can be consumed fresh, as a juice, a supplement, or in powder form. But, what are the health benefits of cherries.
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Cherries are a superfood! They can be consumed fresh, as a juice, a supplement, or in powder form. Tart cherry juice concentrate is the real hero with higher nutritional value than other processed cherries (1). Read on for a detailed overview of what are the health benefits of cherries.
Cherries are anti-inflammatory. Tart cherry juice significantly lowers the key inflammation marker C-Reactive Protein (CRP, which increases in our blood in response to inflammation). In one study, blood levels of CRP decreased by 25% after 12 weeks of tart cherry juice consumption (2). As an anti-inflammatory, tart cherries compare with Ibuprofen and the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug naproxen (3)
Tart cherries are rich in anthocyanins, a flavonoid with strong antioxidant effects (3). Anthocyanins are in various foods, and they give red, purple, and blue plants their rich coloring. The level of antioxidant activity in tart cherries is similar to other superfoods like blueberries, strawberries, and pomegranates (1). In a ranking of highest-antioxidant foods, cherries came in at 14 out of the top 50 antioxidant foods per serving size (4).
Tart cherry juice improves antioxidant defenses in older adults by reducing oxidative damage to DNA (5). Oxidative damage, or free radicals, can harm DNA and speed up aging. Antioxidants in food reduce this oxidative damage.
Both the quality and quantity of sleep improve with the consumption of sweet and tart cherries (6). Tart cherry juice concentrate increases melatonin, improves sleep duration and quality, and can help with disturbed sleep. It increases time in bed, total sleep time, and sleep efficiency (7).
Older rats given tart cherries had improved memory. Sweet cherry protected cells from damage by increased oxidative stress. Anthocyanins in animals improved memory and prevented Alzheimer’s disease (6).
This indicates that cherries can improve cognitive function in humans as well. People consuming sweet cherries reported decreased anxiety and improved mood. Studies looking at anthocyanin-rich foods found that cognitive function improved in humans consuming anthocyanins foods (6).
Cherry consumption helps regulate blood sugar and does not raise blood sugar or fasting insulin levels. In women with diabetes, tart cherry decreased various blood sugar markers. Tart cherry juice inhibits enzymes that promote diabetes. Anthocyanins decrease blood glucose by slowing glucose production from complex carbohydrates, improving liver glucose management, and increasing insulin production (6).
Tart cherry juice consumption helps to reduce CVD risk factors in older adults. It reduces systolic blood pressure (the higher number in a blood pressure reading). It also reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (8).
Tart cherries decrease exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD). EIMD can create temporary pain, soreness, and muscle strength loss due to inflammation and increased oxidation. Anthocyanins in tart cherries, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, contribute to faster recovery after exercise. These improvements occur in both strength and endurance exercises (9). This is important for athletes as excessive inflammation and oxidative stress from training or competition may delay peak form recovery (10).
If you like to drink Powerade to boost recovery after intensive training, you should read “Is Powerade Bad For You?”
Anthocyanins and cherry extracts have anti-arthritic properties (6). In 1950, it was found that cherries prevented attacks of arthritis and improved joint movements in fingers and toes (11). There are inconsistencies in different studies, but the general conclusion is that cherries decrease the frequency of arthritic attacks. This matches the reduction of arthritis in rat and mouse experiments (6).
Cherry juice may reduce gout attack frequency (12). Consuming fresh cherries for two days was associated with a 35% lower risk of gout attacks than not consuming cherries (13).
Celery is another food able to relieve the symptoms of gout. Check out “12 Health Benefits of Eating Celery.”
Add cherries or tart cherry juice to your diet today. It can be a healthy substitute for a sugary soda, with more nutrients and health benefits than soda. Even better, adding tart cherry juice to a daily diet was not found to increase weight or Body Mass Index (BMI) (2).
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