What are Tart Cherries?
Other names: Prunus cerasus, sour cherry, pie cherry, tart cherry juice, montmorency cherry, balaton cherry.
Cherries are the smallest members of the stone fruit family, which include plums, apricots, nectarines, and peaches.
Cherrries are Usually Classified as Either Sweet or Tart
Sweet cherries include Bing cherries, Lambert cherries, Rainier cherries and so are grown mainly in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Tart cherries range from the Montmorency and Balaton types and are produced primarily in Michigan.
Why do people make use of tart cherries and tart cherry juice?
Both sweet and tart cherries and cherry juice have long been used by traditional healers as a folk remedy for gout, because cherries are thought to reduce urate levels in the body.
Tart cherries are used for conditions concerning inflammation and pain, such as: arthritis gout muscle pain back pain diabetes neurodegenerative diseases.
Both sweet and tart cherries contain phenolics, naturally-occurring plant compounds that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effects.
- The main type of phenolic in cherries is named anthocyanins.
- In general, the darker the cherry color, the higher the anthocyanin content.
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Anthocyanins have been found to close two enzymes, COX-1 as well as COX-2, which play a role in the production of inflammatory compounds called prostaglandins. Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen and ibuprofen also work this way.
Test tube studies, cherry anthocyanins have been found to protect neurons from damage by oxidative stress. However, there have been no studies that have looked at whether cherry extracts might prevent or even slow the progression of neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease in humans.
- Both Balaton and Montmorency tart cherries contain relatively high levels of the antioxidant melatonin compared to other foods.
- Montmorency cherries contain approximately 6 times more melatonin than do Balaton cherries.
Are Tart Cherries Far Better as Compared to Sweet Cherries?
Generally, tart cherries have been found to have higher levels of phenolics and anthocyanins than sweet cherries.
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- Tart cherries are also slightly lower in sugar.
- Half a cup of sweet cherries contains 9.3 g of sugar and 46 energy, when compared with 6.6 g of sugar and 39 calories in tart cherries.
However, there is no real evidence that these differences are significant-both types of cherries are very high in anthocyanins compared with other foods.
May be that we are reading much more about the health benefits of tart cherries because of the way they are marketed. In 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration sent warning letters to 29 cherry farmers and distributors for positioning tart cherries about their websites as a healing meals that could possibly help people with gout, arthritis, diabetes, and prevent cancer.
What Research Has Already Been Done on Tart Cherries?
Although anthocyanins, which are also found in blueberries and other purplish-red fruits and vegetables, are known to be powerful antioxidants, no studies have looked at whether cherries--tart or sweet--can alleviate symptoms of arthritis, gout, or diabetes outside the lab.
- All studies involving cherries happen to be very small, so we'll have to wait to see whether tart cherries are helpful and in what quantities.
- In the meantime, here are a few of the studies that have been carried out so far:
Small randomized controlled trial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine examined the effectiveness of a tart cherry juice combination in preventing symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage. Fourteen male college students drank 12 fl oz of a cherry juice blend or a placebo, 2 times per day for eight consecutive days. Durability loss was significantly lower in people taking the cherry juice (4%) compared with the placebo (22%). Pain was also significantly lower in people taking the cherry juice.
Jill M. Tall, Ph.D., research fellow at Johns Hopkins, was the lead researcher of a study that tested the effectiveness of orally administrated anthocyanins from tart cherries on inflammation-induced discomfort in rats. The results of the study suggested that tart cherry anthocyanins may have a beneficial role in reducing inflammatory pain. One small study published in the Journal of Nutrition supported the anti-gout effectiveness of cherries. looked at the effects of Bing cherry (a sweet cherry) intake on healthy women and found that cherry intake decreased blood urate levels, and there was a marginal decrease in inflammatory markers c-reactive protein and nitric oxide. Safety.
Cherries contain sorbitol, which may exacerbate symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome, small intestine bacterial over growing, or fructose malabsorption.
Where to Find Tart Cherries
Tart cherry juice and refreshing, frozen or dried tart cherries can be found in grocery stores, health food stores, and online.
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Chris Randon is a nutritionist specialized in human health, and is based in Los Angeles, Carlifornia.