With a wide range of health benefits, cherries — and more specifically, tart cherries — are an oft-overlooked superfoods. But whether it’s insomnia, joint pain or belly fat you’re dealing with, cherries may be just what the doctor ordered. Here’s why.
Cherries battle belly fat. Researchers found that tart cherries have significant weight management benefits for animals, including reduced belly fat. In the study, rats that received whole tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet didn’t gain as much weight or build up as much body fat as rats that didn’t receive cherries. Their blood also showed much lower levels of certain inflammation markers linked to heart disease and diabetes. And, in addition, they had significantly lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than their cherry-deprived counterparts.
Cherries cut your chance of getting gout. If you have ever felt the agonizing pain of a gout attack (swollen toes and all) it quickly becomes something you don’t want to experience again. For gout sufferers, tart cherries may be another solution to add to their anti-gout arsenal. A 2012 study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism found that patients with gout who consumed cherries over a two-day period (yes, just two days!) showed a 35% lower risk of gout attacks compared to their fruit wary counterparts. In addition, the risk of gout flares was 75 per cent lower when cherry intake was combined with the uric-acid reducing drug, allopurinol. And if you are wondering if you will have to start your own cherry farm, the participants consumed just ½ cup (or 10-12 cherries) up to three times per day.
Cherries combat post-workout soreness. Find yourself having trouble walking down the stairs (or even sitting down) after a hard workout? If you’re looking for a healthy way to fight post-exercise soreness, cherries fit the bill. Studies suggest a cup and a half of tart cherries or one cup of tart cherry juice can significantly reduce muscle inflammation and soreness (remember that a good workout actually causes muscle damage, resulting in inflammation).
In one study a group of marathon runners drank tart cherry juice or a placebo drink twice daily for seven days prior to their race. The cherry juice group reported significantly less post-race muscle pain. Remember to have it immediately post workout (i.e. with your whey protein) when your muscles are primed to absorb excess insulin in the bloodstream.
Cherries provide natural osteoarthritis relief. If you can’t shake the pain and discomfort of swollen joints and you are frustrated with the side effects of the standard prescription of ice and NSAIDs you can choose to stock up on tart cherries either in juice, pill or fruit form.
In a study of twenty women ages 40 to 70 with inflammatory osteoarthritis, researchers found that drinking tart cherry juice twice daily for three weeks led to significant reductions in important inflammation markers – especially for patients who had the highest inflammation levels at the start of the study, It certainly beats the side effects of many pain medications.