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The Benefits of Cherries

he impressive nutrition of cherries has led to research on their usage for a number of health conditions. So what are cherries good for, besides making us happy when we eat them? Here’s a summary of some of the research on the benefits of cherries for health (and no, I’m not — wait for it — cherry-picking).

1. May Help Treat Inflammatory Arthritis Gout

Sweet cherries may reduce inflammatory markers when eaten consistently and as a regular part of the diet, which could benefit conditions like arthritis gout. In one study, healthy men and women ate 45 cherries a day for a month (that sounds like a fun month to me!) and experienced a 25% reduction in C-reactive protein (a marker for inflammation).

When a similar intervention was performed among adults with gout, eating around 16 cherries a day resulted in lower uric acid levels and a 35% lower risk of gout attacks. And to make sure it wasn’t just an effect of antioxidants like vitamin C, grapes, strawberries, and kiwi fruit were also studied, but found to have no such effect on uric acid levels. In fact, the efficacy of cherries is so convincing that adding them to traditional gout interventions, like a low-purine diet and medications, seems worth a try.

2. Supports Heart Health

Cherries are especially high in antioxidant compounds called flavonoids, which may improve markers of cardiovascular health. Flavonoids can help prevent and endothelial dysfunction, which can lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease. Researchers found that 12 weeks of drinking two daily cups of tart cherry juice resulted in lower systolic blood pressure and LDL “bad” cholesterol levels in adults, as well as improved blood biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress (particularly related to heart health).

3. May Improve Your Sleep

Some research has found that eating cherries has a high success rate in reported sleep improvement, (there’s no mention if they led to sweet dreams, however). Melatonin, an antioxidant compound that promotes melanin formation and sleep, is found in both sweet cherries and tart cherries. Several studies have observed the ability of cherry consumption to improve both the quality and quantity of sleep hours. Tart cherry juice may even help reduce the severity of insomnia.

4. May Improve Exercise Recovery

Many runners, swimmers, and triathletes drink cherry juice before and after training and races, and some joke that it feels like they’re “doping” because the stuff is so powerful. For instance, in a 2020 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, researchers found that tart cherry juice improved recovery of muscle function after running a marathon by increasing antioxidant activity and reducing inflammation, as compared to placebo. (I do have to wonder how the researchers made a placebo version of tart cherry juice. It seems like it would be hard to keep the runners from knowing what they were drinking. But apparently, the researchers figured out a way, proving once again that science is amazing!).

Tart cherry juice also has research to support improving recovery of isometric muscle strength after intensive exercise by preventing oxidative damage. And in a 2016 study, endurance athletes who consumed 480 mg of tart cherry capsules once daily for 10 days experienced less muscle breakdown and immune and inflammatory stress, as well as better aerobic performance, compared to the placebo group.

(Excerpt fro The Food Revolution Network)

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