Many scientific studies have pointed to the health virtues of tart cherries. Scientific conclusion: tart cherries are a “Super Fruit,” as they are richer in nutrients and phytochemicals than most other fruits.

Some studies suggest that the compounds found in tart cherries may reduce inflammation caused by arthritis and gout. Tart cherries may help protect against cardiovascular illnesses, certain cancers, diabetes and insulin resistance syndrome, and even memory loss.

*For more information, see a comprehensive study of cherry virtues conducted by Professor Luc Hobson, of McGill University, for Le Temps des Cerises.

Arthritis and gout

In recent years, tart cherries have become increasingly popular among people suffering from gout and arthritis, most of whom consume it in the form of juice in order to alleviate their symptoms. The anti-inflammatory properties of tart cherries may contribute to diminishing pain induced by inflammation, in addition to helping manage inflammation-based illnesses. Tart cherries contain a high concentration of anthocyanins 1 and 2, which can block the action of a type of enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase (COX). Certain analgesic drugs similarly act by inhibiting cyclo-oxygenase action; this observation may explain why tart cherries are known to reduce pain resulting from arthritis and gout. Their anti-inflammatory properties are comparable to those of ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen.

The heart

Thanks to their polyphenols, tart cherries help protect against cardiovascular illnesses. The more flavonoid-rich the diet, the lower the risks of arterial and coronary diseases. Consuming anthocyanins in moderate quantities helps protect against oxidative damage. In larger quantities, anthocyanins can also improve vasodilation and blood vessel relaxation, in addition to slightly lowering blood lipid levels.

Diabetes

Tart cherries and their compounds may also help keep diabetes under control. Studies have shown that pancreas cells exposed to anthocyanins produce 50% more insulin.

Anthocyanins also help control diabetes by decreasing fasting blood glucose levels and increasing tolerance.

Tart cherries are a low glycemic index food. Even dried tart cherries are moderate on the glycemic index. This means people suffering from diabetes can also benefit from tart cherries!

An antioxidant

Studies show that maintaining a high level of antioxidants in your body provides protection and helps lower risks of disease. It also stimulates the immune system and protects brain neurons. Antioxidant levels are measured using ORAC units. Researchers estimate that people should consume between 3,000 and 5,000 ORAC units per day in order to effectively counter the effects of oxidants absorbed daily through food, air and stress. Tart cherry has been ranked among the 15 foods richest in antioxidants, ahead of even red wine, prunes, black chocolate and orange juice.

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The brain

Studies have shown that the phytonutrients in tart cherries help protect brain neurons from oxidative damage, thereby reducing neuron loss. A phytonutrient-rich diet can reverse neural aging and even improve memory.

Cancer

Tart cherries are a significant source of a specific phytochemical known as Perillyl alcohol (POH). Studies show that POH helps prevent and reduce the progression of certain cancers such as of the prostate, liver, lungs and skin.

According to studies, POH has also induced regression of small tumours and certain more advanced breast cancers.

Experts are even considering the use of POH as adjunct therapy for brain cancer because it increases cancer cells’ sensitivity to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. This, in turn, would promote cancer regression.

Research has shown that the cyanidins and anthocyanins found in tart cherries may also lower the risks of colon cancer.

Sleep

Tart cherries are one of the few dietary sources of melatonin, a powerful antioxidant known as the sleep hormone. This hormone is responsible for modulating our circadian rhythms and sleep/wake cycles. Tart cherries contain a higher concentration of melatonin than the one found in human blood. Just one handful of tart cherries may increase blood melatonin levels and facilitate the sleep/wake cycle.

How many ORACs do tart cherries contain ?

Antioxidant power (ORAC index per 100 g)

Concentrated tart cherry juice: 12,800 ORAC units
Dried tart cherries: 6,800 ORAC units
Frozen tart cherries: 2,033 ORAC units
Canned tart cherries: 1,700 ORAC units

Overview:

Product

      Quantity

ORAC un.

  Concentrated juice

      2 tbsp in 1 cup water

3,657

      3 tbsp in 1-1/2 cups water

5,485

  Dried tart Cherries

      1/3 cup

2,992

      1/2 cup

4,488

*For more information, see a comprehensive study of cherry virtues conducted by Professor Luc Hobson, of McGill University, for Le Temps des Cerises.