Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries!

Cherries, deliciously healthy!  A growing body of science reveals tart cherries, enjoyed as either dried, frozen cherries or concentrated cherry juice, have among the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants, when compared to other fruits. They also contain other important nutrients such as beta carotene (19 times more than blueberries or strawberries) vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate.  From reducing insomnia and inflammation to relieving pain from muscle soreness to arthritis, this little fruit is worth looking into.

In a pilot study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, scientists from the University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester and the V.A. Center of Canandaigua tested the effects of tart cherry juice on the sleep habits of 15 older adults.  During the weeks the study participants drank the cherry juice, there were significant reductions in reported insomnia and drinking the tart cherry juice appeared to help people sleep through the night better, without waking up.  The researchers noted that tart cherries' natural sleep-enhancing benefits could be the result of their relatively high content of melatonin -- a natural antioxidant that has been shown in previous research to help induce sleepiness at night and wakefulness during the day.

Weight, Diabetes & Heart Disease:
University of Michigan research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, suggests tart cherries may help to control weight and to prevent metabolic syndrome, the cluster of symptoms including high blood pressure and high cholesterol that ups the risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  The researchers report that animals that received powdered tart cherries in their diet had lower total cholesterol, lower blood sugar, less fat storage in the liver, lower oxidative stress and increased production of a molecule that helps the body handle fat and sugar, compared with rats that didn’t receive cherries as part of an otherwise similar diet.

Pain Relief:
Oregon Health and Science University's Department of Medicine researchers have also found that drinking tart cherry juice for 7 days before and during a strenuous running event minimizes post-run muscle pain. Their study was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Michigan State University study found that 20 tart cherries were at least as effective as other painkilling remedies, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 

Arthritis & Gout:
Cherries' anthocyanidins have been shown to inhibit the activity of xanthine oxidase, the enzyme involved in the production of uric acid. Clinical studies have shown that consuming fresh cherries is very effective in lowering uric acid levels and preventing attacks of gout.
The Encyclopedia of Healing Foodsby Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D

Cherries are a well-known remedy for gout, arthritis, and rheumatism. They also help overcome numbness in the limbs and paralysis as a result of rheumatism. Part of their action in rheumatic disorders occurs from their ability to eliminate excess body acids. Cherries are most beneficial for treating disorders accompanied by coldness, such as when the person feels perennially cold. Richly supplied in iron, cherries are often used to improve the blood and treat anemia.
Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutritionby Paul Pitchford

My mother gets relief from her arthritis pain by drinking concentrated tart cherry juice.  My family simply enjoys flavoring carbonated water, almond milk or teas with concentrated cherry juice just because it's yummy!  We also drink it to reduce inflammation from occasional illnesses/fevers.

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