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Health Benefits Of Eating Cherries

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9 Min Read

Health on mind? Three cheers for cherries!

Cherries, both sweet and sour, have many health benefits. They are rich in anthocyanins, a special kind of flavonoids that give them an edge over other fruits in fighting a host of diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and inflammation. Cherries are also found to be good in boosting brain health because of anthocyanins exhibiting anti-neurodegenerative properties. Cherries contain melatonin in a higher amount than that is found in human blood, promising better sleep.

Think of cherries, think of a juicy red fruit placed atop an ice cream scoop. Here’s the surprise! All cherries are not red. Nor is it just sweet and round. The cherry is a fleshy drupe, a fruit of the plants of the genus Prunus.1 Read on to know more about the fruit.

Types of Cherries

Though there are many varieties of cherries available in the market, they can be broadly divided into two–sweet cherries and sour or tart cherries. We eat sweet cherries raw and fresh from the tree while sour cherries are often eaten processed. Tart or sour cherries make up the majority of the processed cherries that go into pies and preserves.2

Cherries are truly a super fruit. And that’s mainly because of the anthocyanins in them. Anthocyanins are a special class of flavonoids (the components that give color to the fruits) known for being free radical scavengers that give the fruit edge over other fruits in fighting diseases like cancer.3 They are commonly found in deep-coloured fruits but cherries are special simply because a study has found that only tart cherries have six specific anthocyanins.4

Health Benefits Of Cherries

Cancer Fighter

Cherries, both sweet and tart, are known for their cancer-fighting property. Various nutrients and bioactive compounds like vitamin C, anthocyanins, quercetin, etc found in sweet cherries give it the ability to fight many diseases including cancer.5

In a study done on mice, it was found that when given a diet comprising tart cherries, the anthocyanins and cyanidin in them reduced the cell growth of human colon cancer cell lines HT 29 and HCT 116. Colonic tumor numbers or volume, however, did not diminish much.6

Apart from anthocyanins, the other flavonoids found in abundance in cherries, too show anticarcinogenic effects.7

Best For Brain Health

Research shows that anthocyanins in cherries possess strong anti-neurodegenerative properties that can protect the neuronal cells from oxidative stress that could damage them.8 Oxidative stress, along with aging can result in the death of nerve cells in certain brain regions, leading to many neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.9

Anthocyanins are also believed to have a protective effect on brain tissues and can guard the brain against neurological disorders like brain ischemia where there is reduced blood supply to the brain.10

Heart Healthy

Studies on rats have shown that cherries, especially tart cherries, are capable of reversing some of the most prominent risk factors for cardiovascular diseases like cholesterol, triglycerides, and inflammation.11

In a study on humans, it was found that drinking 8 ounces of tart cherry juice daily reduced the triglyceride and cholesterol levels in the study subjects.12

In another study, rats were given tart cherry powder which resulted in the decrease of 26 percent of cholesterol and 65 percent of mortality in them which were believed to be linked to improved heart function.13

Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes Away

Anthocyanins in cherries are found to put up a good fight against metabolic syndrome, a collection of conditions such as high triglycerides and lipid profile, high fasting blood sugar and blood pressure and excess weight. Many research have shown that consuming tart cherries can reverse factors that lead to metabolic syndrome and later, type 2 diabetes. When obese rats were fed tart cherry juice daily for 90 days as part of the research, it was found that various components that make up metabolic syndrome were reduced drastically.14

Protects From Inflammation

We all go through inflammations of varying degrees at some point in our lives. Sometimes, it is mild and passes with time but sometimes, inflammation can be severe and lead to many health complications. Inflammation is basically our immune system’s response to stimulus and works as a defense mechanism. But sometimes immune system fights healthy body cells by mistake resulting in many diseases. 15

Foods rich in antioxidants are considered excellent for inflammation. In a study conducted on mice tissues like blood, liver, and brain to understand the efficacy of cherries in keeping inflammation in check, sour cherry juice was found to hold anti-inflammatory properties.16

Feeling tired and sore after running a marathon? Tart cherry juice is what you need. Studies have shown that this juice can effectively reduce some of the symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage17 18

An estimated 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis and are in pain. According to researchers at the Baylor Research Institute who conducted a study on patients with osteoarthritis, more than half of the patients showed up for the pilot study experienced significant improvement in pain and function after taking the cherry powder pills for 8 weeks.19 Cherry juice is found to be a good pain reliever in cases of gout, too. 20

Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative capacity, cherries are considered a natural alternative to over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).21

Get Better Sleep

Melatonin is a pineal hormone in our body that is responsible for regulation of the sleep-wake cycle and facilitation of sleep. Sleep disturbances can lead to immune suppression and can put you at risk for cancer.22

Cherries contain high levels of melatonin, even higher than that found in the human blood.23

Studies show that drinking tart cherry juice can enhance sleep duration and sleep quality,24 leading to enhanced physiological and cognitive functions, and a general improvement in well-being.

Cherries are a powerhouse of disease-fighting, highly nutritional substances that affect every aspect of our health and well-being. These small fruits are so unbelievably beneficial that they can rightly be classified as a super fruit.

References   [ + ]

1.Janick, Jules. Horticultural Reviews-Volume 19. Origin of Cherry.Wiley Publishers
2.Sour Cherries In Canada. Government of Canada
3.Hou, De-Xing. “Potential mechanisms of cancer chemoprevention by anthocyanins.” Current molecular medicine 3, no. 2 (2003): 149-159.
4, 8.Kim, Dae-Ok, Ho Jin Heo, Young Jun Kim, Hyun Seuk Yang, and Chang Y. Lee. “Sweet and sour cherry phenolics and their protective effects on neuronal cells.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 53, no. 26 (2005): 9921-9927.
5.McCune, Letitia M., Chieri Kubota, Nicole R. Stendell-Hollis, and Cynthia A. Thomson. “Cherries and health: a review.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 51, no. 1 (2010): 1-12.
6.Kang, Soo-Young, Navindra P. Seeram, Muraleedharan G. Nair, and Leslie D. Bourquin. “Tart cherry anthocyanins inhibit tumor development in Apc Min mice and reduce proliferation of human colon cancer cells.” Cancer letters194, no. 1 (2003): 13-19.
7.Hollrnan, P. C. H., M. G. L. Hertogt, and M. B. Katan. “Role of dietary flavonoids in protection against cancer and coronary heart disease.” Food and Chemical Tox-icology 23 (1985): 659.
9.Halliwell, Barry. “Role of free radicals in the neurodegenerative diseases.” Drugs & aging 18, no. 9 (2001): 685-716.
10.Shin, Won-Ho, Sang-Joon Park, and Eun-Joo Kim. “Protective effect of anthocyanins in middle cerebral artery occlusion and reperfusion model of cerebral ischemia in rats.” Life sciences 79, no. 2 (2006): 130-137.
11.Seymour, E. Mitchell, Daniel Urcuyo-Llanes, Steven F. Bolling, and Maurice R. Bennink. “Tart cherry intake reduces plasma and tissue inflammation in obesity-prone rats.” The FASEB Journal 24, no. 1 Supplement (2010): 335-1.
12.Martin, Keith R., Jennie Bopp, Lacey Burrell, and Ginger Hook. “The effect of 100% tart cherry juice on serum uric acid levels, biomarkers of inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk factors.” The FASEB Journal 25, no. 1 Supplement (2011): 339-2.
13.Seymour, E. Mitchell, Michael G. Kondoleon, Michael G. Huang, Ara Kirakosyan, Peter B. Kaufman, and Steven F. Bolling. “Tart cherry-enriched diets reduce atherosclerosis and mortality in mice.” The FASEB Journal 25, no. 1 Supplement (2011): 980-10.
14.Seymour, E. M., Sarah K. Lewis, Daniel E. Urcuyo-Llanes, Ignasia I. Tanone, Ara Kirakosyan, Peter B. Kaufman, and Steven F. Bolling. “Regular tart cherry intake alters abdominal adiposity, adipose gene transcription, and inflammation in obesity-prone rats fed a high fat diet.” Journal of medicinal food 12, no. 5 (2009): 935-942.
15.What is an inflammation.US National Library of Medicine.
16.Šarić, Ana, Sandra Sobočanec, Tihomir Balog, Borka Kušić, Višnja Šverko, Verica Dragović-Uzelac, Branka Levaj, Zrinka Čosić, Željka Mačak Šafranko, and Tatjana Marotti. “Improved antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential in mice consuming sour cherry juice (Prunus Cerasus cv. Maraska).” Plant foods for human nutrition 64, no. 4 (2009): 231-237.
17.Connolly, D. A. J., M. P. McHugh, and O. I. Padilla-Zakour. “Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 40, no. 8 (2006): 679-683.
18.Tall, Jill M., Navindra P. Seeram, Chengshui Zhao, Muraleedharan G. Nair, Richard A. Meyer, and Srinivasa N. Raja. “Tart cherry anthocyanins suppress inflammation-induced pain behavior in rat.” Behavioural brain research 153, no. 1 (2004): 181-188.
19.Can cherries reveal the pain of osteoarthritis. Baylor Scott&White health.
20.Zhang, Yuqing, Tuhina Neogi, Clara Chen, Christine Chaisson, David J. Hunter, and Hyon K. Choi. “Cherry consumption and decreased risk of recurrent gout attacks.” Arthritis & Rheumatism 64, no. 12 (2012): 4004-4011.
21.Bell, P. G., M. P. McHugh, Emma Stevenson, and Glyn Howatson. “The role of cherries in exercise and health.” Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports 24, no. 3 (2014): 477-490.
22.Blask, David E. “Melatonin, sleep disturbance and cancer risk.” Sleep medicine reviews 13, no. 4 (2009): 257-264.
23.Burkhardt, Susanne, Dun Xian Tan, Lucien C. Manchester, Rüdiger Hardeland, and Russel J. Reiter. “Detection and quantification of the antioxidant melatonin in Montmorency and Balaton tart cherries (Prunus cerasus).” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 49, no. 10 (2001): 4898-4902.
24.Howatson, Glyn, Phillip G. Bell, Jamie Tallent, Benita Middleton, Malachy P. McHugh, and Jason Ellis. “Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality.” European journal of nutrition51, no. 8 (2012): 909-916.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.