Did you know that 20% of Americans have arthritis? A natural remedy for joint pain like arthritis is tart cherries. Like all dark-skinned fruits, cherries are high in antioxidants and other phytochemicals that promote human health in numerous ways. While sweet cherries may be more fun to eat, the most potent inflammation-fighting cherries are the tart variety. “Anthocyanins” (the phytochemicals which give cherries their vibrant red color) have powerful anti-inflammatory properties since they shut down the enzymes that cause tissue inflammation and pain. (Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, Sept.-Oct. 2006). In a recent study, University of Michigan researchers found that giving whole tart cherries to lab rats reduced two common markers of blood vessel inflammation by up to 50%. This not only helps reduce the pain associated with arthritis but also lowers the risk of type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Studies also suggest antioxidant-rich foods (like cherries) may help reduce levels of nitric oxide, a compound associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Cherries have a unique antioxidant profile that works similar to some types of pain medication.
Cherries are also one of the only natural sources of melatonin, a potent antioxidant which helps regulate the immune system and prevents cancer. And if that’s not enough reasons to have a bowl of cherries, they are also well known to help reverse gout (a condition caused by too much uric acid circulating in the blood), reduce body fat, and lower cholesterol. According to these recent studies, perhaps the old saying, “life is like a bowl of cherries” should be changed to “a healthy life depends upon a bowl of cherries.”