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In a review of 29 published human studies, researchers found that sweet cherries may offer health benefits to subjects suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions.
A new review1 of 29 previously published human studies indicates that sweet (Prunus avium L.) and tart (Prunus cerasus L.) cherries may offer a range of health benefits, particularly for subjects suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions. The review, which was published in the journal Nutrients, found that sweet and tart cherry consumption may help reduce inflammation, lower high blood pressure, attenuate symptoms of arthritis, and help to improve cognitive health and sleep quality, among other health indications.
The authors of the review say that both sweet and tart cherries are low in calories and contain high concentrations of nutrients and bioactive components like fiber, polyphenols, carotenoids, vitamin C, and potassium. Polyphenols and vitamin C are known to be powerful antioxidants, with anti-inflammatory properties. The researchers also note in the study that increased oxidative stress contributes to the development and progression of several chronic inflammatory diseases. Given that cherries contain high concentrations of polyphenols and vitamin C, the researchers sought to further explore their potential for reducing inflammation, and thus, the negative health outcomes that can result from oxidative stress.
While the research team focused on human studies conducted with cherries, they also considered existing animal and in vitro studies. In total, researchers examined 29 studies; 20 of those studies were conducted with tart cherries or tart cherry products, seven with sweet cherries or sweet cherry products, and two with unspecified cherries. Most of the studies included in the current review were less than two weeks’ duration, and provided subjects with the equivalent of 45-270 cherries per day in either single or split doses. Two-thirds of the studies were randomized and placebo-controlled.
The researchers found that consumption of cherries had beneficial effects on subjects’ levels of oxidative stress (8/10 studies), inflammation (11/16 studies), exercise-induced muscle-soreness (8/9 studies), loss of strength (8/9 studies), blood pressure (5/7 studies), arthritis symptoms (5/5 studies), and sleep quality (4/4 studies). Cherry consumption was also found to have a potentially beneficial effect on hemoglobin, very-low-density lipoprotein, and triglycerides/high-density lipoprotein in diabetic women; and helped to decrease very-low-density lipoprotein, and triglycerides/high-density lipoprotein in obese subjects. According to the research team, the results indicate that cherries “can promote health by preventing or decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation.”
The review was funded in part by grants from the Washington State Fruit Commission and the California State Advisory Board. The Northwest Cherry Growers, led by the Washington State Fruit Commission, is an organization that promotes education, market development, and research of stone fruits from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Montana orchards.
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1. Kelley DS et al., “A review of the health benefits of cherries,” Nutrients, vol. 10, no. 3 (March 2018): 368