Cherries are delicious — there are no two ways about it. They are sweet and tart all at the same time, taste wonderful in baked goods, and produce a thick and delicious juice. And, to top it all off, they could give a significant boost when it comes to your good health.
Researchers have stated that cherries contain 19 times the beta-carotene of blueberries and strawberries. They also contain high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and fiber.
In clinical trials, researchers have confirmed that tart red cherries could benefit patients with autoimmune neurodegenerative and connective tissue diseases, particularly rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. Results show that tart red cherries could reduce pain and inflammation and also help protect against cancer. These effects are caused by the phytochemicals in cherries known as anthocyanins.
Scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore discovered that the anthocyanins in tart cherries helped to reduce painful inflammation. The trial, which was performed on rats, compared the pain-relieving benefits of cherries with the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drug, indomethacin. The researchers believe that this effect may stem from the ability of anthocyanins to reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is thought to be a major cause of autoimmune disease.
In a related study, researchers wanted to find out if tart cherry anthocyanins could help prevent muscle pain related to intensive exercise. Fourteen male college students were given 12 fluid ounces of cherry juice twice a day, or placebo, for eight consecutive days. The participants were then evaluated for strength loss and muscle tenderness. The research team found that the young men who added tart cherry juice into their daily diet experienced decreased symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage. In addition, cherries may offer protection against gout, a painful inflammatory condition caused when urate crystals enter the fluid surrounding your joints.
You can consume cherries in a variety of ways to get all the health benefits. You can eat dried cherries, fresh cherries, or frozen cherries. You can also drink cherry juice and cherry concentrate.