The Power of Cherries

Posted on July 15th, 2014 by

So it’s that time of year when fruit is in abundance, let’s talk about one of my favourites and how they benefit your health.

Cherries have traditionally been recommended and used for gout prevention, and the medical studies have shown that uric acid drops after eating Bing Cherries. (Journal of Nutrition June 2003). Elevated uric acid triggers the excruciating pain of a gout attack, so this finding supports the potential usefulness of cherries against gout. Another study at the University of Texas health Science found that tart Montmorency cherries contain significant amounts of melatonin.

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the brain’s pineal gland that helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythms, to help regulate sleep and wake patterns. In addition research has shown that melatonin may slow the aging process. In higher doses it has also been used for breast cancer treatment, and low melatonin has been linked to breast cancer risks. Shift workers often have issues with sleep and melatonin. Also certain sleeping medications effect melatonin production. This hormone also has  strong antioxidant properties that help reduce inflammation and support the immune system. Maintaining high antioxidant levels lowers a person’s risk for disease, stimulates the immune system which also protects the nervous system. Antioxidant strength is measured in Oxygen Radical Absorbance (ORAC) units. The higher the ORAC score, the better a food is at helping our bodies fight disease. Nutritionists estimate that we should consume 3,000 to 5,000 units a day to reach an antioxidant capacity in the blood that would have health benefits. Tart cherries are one of the riches sources of flavonoids called anthocyanins, the plant pigment responsible for the rich red colour of cherries. Anthocyanins appear to have the greatest antioxidant capacity of all the flavonoids and have been linked to a variety of health benefits, from protecting against heart disease and cancer to keeping the mind sharp. Tart cherries are rich in phenolic compounds such as the potent antioxidants egallic acid, kaempferol, and quercitin. Scientific studies have shown that egallic acid is a potent anticancer and anti atherosclerotic compound, and that phenolic compounds, enhance cancer cell death. Michigan State University found that tart cherries contained high concentrations of anthocyanins 1 and 2, which help block enzymes in the body known as COX-1 and COX -2 the same process whereby medications like aspirin and ibuprofen inhibit pain. We now have a growing body of scientific evidence that supports the remarkable health benefits of tart cherries for inflammation, gout, sleep and anti cancer and immune protecting benefits.

So add some of these sweet cherries to your daily fruit intake today.