Dr. Parks' Comments

Piedmont Chiropractic

Tart Cherry: More than just a tasty snack?

Uses for Tart Cherries and Juice

Cherries help ease arthritis pain

For those who suffer from arthritis and gout, you will be relieved to find out that adding cherries to your diet can greatly decrease the intense pain associated with those ailments. Excess uric acid in the blood is the culprit behind the excruciating pain that causes swelling, tenderness and inflammation.  A study done by the USDA found that uric acid can be reduced by as much as 15 percent by eating 2 cups of Bing cherries. Cherries can also help reduce painful inflammation by decreasing the amount of C-reactive protein produced. So add a little zing to your diet by choosing Bing (cherries).
 
Cherries help fight cancer
The distinctive deep red pigment cherries are known for comes from flavonoids; powerful antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the body. Cyanidin is a flavonoid from the anthocyanin group found in cherries that helps keep cancerous cells from growing out of control. And, for cherries with the most anthocyanins go for sweet cherries with the deepest pigment; crimson-purple rather than bright red.
 
Cherries help muscle recovery
Tart cherry juice to help with muscular damage and recovery after both endurance and strength exercises and may help reduce pain after long runs or intense strength training sessions.  But the benefit comes from drinking the beverage consistently leading up to that training session or event.
 
Cherries help you sleep
If sipping a cup of chamomile isn't enough to induce restful sleep try having tart cherry juice before bed. Tart cherries contain melatonin, a hormone that helps make you feel sleepy. Two tablespoons of tart cherry juice has been shown in studies to be just as effective as a melatonin supplement. So, pour yourself a little cherry juice nightcap for a tasty bedtime sleep aid.
 
Cherries and blood pressure
Cherries are an excellent source of potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure by getting rid of the excess sodium in our body. Eating cherries helps keep potassium and sodium in balance, and can prevent hypertension from occurring. One cup of cherries has the same amount of potassium as a banana making it a great substitute when you are not in the mood for another ho-hum banana.
 
Cherries help keep you trim
Eating cherries can help you lose weight and stay trim.  A cup of cherries is less than 100 calories and packs in 3 grams of fiber, which will keep you feeling full longer. Also, these little beauties contain many B-vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B6; these vitamins are crucial for metabolism and convert nutrients into energy. What could be better than eating cherries to help you stay lean and skinny?
 
Some 50 million Americans-about one in three adults-have a cluster of health-status markers linked to increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type II diabetes.
  
This common condition is called "metabolic syndrome" or "syndrome X", and it constitutes perhaps the greatest under-recognized threat to Americans' health.

Metabolic syndrome-MetS for short-is usually defined as having three or more of these half-dozen risk factors:
  1. Abdominal obesity (excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen).
  2. High blood triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol: a state that fosters plaque buildups in artery walls.
  3. Elevated blood pressure.
  4. Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance (the body can't properly use insulin or blood sugar).
  5. Pro-thrombotic state that promotes dangerous clots (e.g., high fibrinogen or plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 in the blood).
  6. Pro-inflammatory state (e.g., elevated C-reactive protein in the blood).
Antioxidant-rich cherries produced major improvements in health measures relevant to preventing metabolic syndrome.
  
 Are Tart Cherries More Effective Than Sweet Cherries?
Generally, tart cherries have been found to have higher concentrations of phenolics and anthocyanins than sweet cherries. Tart cherries are also slightly lower in sugar. Half a cup of sweet cherries contains 9.3 g of sugar and 46 calories, compared to 6.6 g of sugar and 39 calories in tart cherries.
 
What Research Has Been Done on Tart Cherries?
  • A small randomized controlled trial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine examined the effectiveness of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage. Fourteen male college students drank 12 fl oz of a cherry juice blend or a placebo, twice per day for eight consecutive days. Strength loss was significantly lower in people taking the cherry juice (4%) compared with the placebo (22%). Pain was also significantly lower in people taking the cherry juice.  
  • Jill M. Tall, Ph.D., research fellow at Johns Hopkins, was the lead researcher of a study that tested the effectiveness of orally administrated anthocyanins from tart cherries on inflammation-induced pain in rats. The results of the study suggested that tart cherry anthocyanins may have a beneficial role in reducing inflammatory pain.   
  • One small study published in the Journal of Nutrition supported the anti-gout effectiveness of cherries, assessed the effects of cherry consumption on healthy women and found that cherry consumption decreased blood urate levels, and there was a marginal decrease in inflammatory markers c-reactive protein and nitric oxide.
  • A morning and evening ritual of tart cherry juice may help adults sleep better at night, according to a new study presented at the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting. Researchers from Louisiana State University found that drinking Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks helped increase sleep time by nearly 90 minutes among older adults with insomnia.
  • Research was conducted in 48 six-week old male rats bred to be genetically susceptible to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and impaired glucose (blood sugar) tolerance.  According to Dr. Seymour, "Rats fed tart cherries as one per cent of their total diet had reduced markers of metabolic syndrome." 
  • The University of Michigan researchers found that after 12 weeks rats fed cherries had 54% body fat as opposed to 63% body fat in those fed a "Western diet." Particularly fat deposited around the waist line which is associated with heart disease.
Safety
Cherries contain sorbitol, which may exacerbate symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, or fructose malabsorption.
 
Where to Find Tart Cherries
Tart cherry juice and fresh, frozen or dried tart cherries can be found in grocery stores, Wal-Mart, health food stores, and online.
 
Cherries are not only healthy, but they are delicious and versatile. They can be added to everything from dairy, to pork; eaten raw or cooked down to make a sauce or strained for juice. Serve them by the bowlful for dessert at your next summer barbecue; just be sure to have plenty of napkins and bowls for the pits!