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Superfood Health Benefits: The Cherry – Good for the heart

Superfood Health Benefits: The Cherry – Good for the heart

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Researchers believe tart cherries may provide a number of cardiovascular benefits due to the intensity of anthocyanins inside these little red fruits. Studies indicate that tart cherries may help lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce inflammation and improve belly fat – all factors specifically linked to heart disease risk.

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 showed much lower levels of molecules that indicate the kind of inflammation that has been linked to heart disease and diabetes.

“Our previous research has shown that Montmorency tart cherries can have a positive effect on cardiovascular health and can reduce risk factors like high cholesterol and diabetes,” says E. Mitchell Seymour, Ph.D., supervisor of the Cardioprotection Research Laboratory. “While prescribed drugs improve the outlook for certain risk factors, they’ve also shown to have undesirable side effects. We wanted to see if a tart cherry-rich diet might provide similar cardiovascular benefits without the risk of heart attack or stroke.”

A look at the evidence:

  • Protects the heart. A high intake of anthocyanins – abundant in purple and dark red fruits and vegetables like tart cherries – was associated with a decreased risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women.
  • Reduces stroke risk. The University of Michigan Cardioprotection Research Laboratory suggests tart cherries may help reduce the risk of stroke. They found that tart cherries acted similar to prescribed drugs used to help regulate fat and glucose in patients with metabolic syndrome.
  • Lowers triglycerides. High triglycerides in your blood can raise your risk of heart disease. This study found that consuming 8 ounces of tart cherry juice daily helped to lower triglycerides by 17 percent, on average.
  • Decreases cholesterol levels. Scientists reported a 26 percent decrease in total cholesterol levels in mice that were given a tart cherry powder, as well as a 65 percent reduction in early death – likely due to improved cardiovascular health.

Published Studies:

Effect of a tart cherry juice supplement on arterial stiffness and inflammation in healthy adults: a randomised controlled trial. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2014 Jun;69(2):122-7. doi: 10.1007/s11130-014-0409-x.

Regular tart cherry intake alters abdominal adiposity, adipose gene transcription, and inflammation in obesity-prone rats fed a high fat diet. J Med Food. 2009 Oct;12(5):935-42. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2008.0270.

Synergistic inhibition of interleukin-6 production in adipose stem cells by tart cherry anthocyanins and atorvastatin. Phytomedicine. 2012 Jul 15;19(10):878-81. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2012.05.001. Epub 2012 Jun 14.

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