A new study has been released that suggests tart cherries can help reduce chronic inflammation. Researchers note the bright red fruit contains the antioxidant compounds that can help ease pain.
According to a press release, researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University presented their findings to the American College of Sports Medicine Conference (ACSM) in San Francisco, Calif.
The study consisted of 20 women, aged 40 to 70. The women all had inflammatory osteoarthritis, and the researchers found that women drinking tart cherry juice twice a day for three weeks experienced "significant reductions in important inflammation markers." Researchers said the women who had that highest inflammation markers at the beginning of the study showed the most notable changes.
"With millions of Americans looking for ways to naturally manage pain, it's promising that tart cherries can help, without the possible side effects often associated with arthritis medications," said Kerry Kuehl, M.D, Dr.PH., M.S., Oregon Health & Science University, the study's principal investigator.
"I'm intrigued by the potential for a real food to offer such a powerful anti-inflammatory benefit – especially for active adults," Kuehl said.
Tart cherries might also be beneficial for athletes. A previous study, which Kuehl also worked on, found athletes who consumed tart cherry juice during training had less pain. The press release pointed to earlier research that found osteoarthritis pain dropped more than 20 percent for individuals taking cherry extract.
Cherries are increasingly in the news in relation to health benefits. In Dec. 2011, Digital Journal reported a European study found cherries to be a natural sleep aid and insomnia remedy.
Although not all good news for cherries this year. Earlier this month the Green Bay Press Gazette reported the cherry crop in Michigan is suffering this year because of unseasonably warm winter temperatures, followed by a late March freeze that impacted trees at a "sensitive stage." Michigan produces 80 percent of the tart cherries grown in the U.S.
The full report on tart cherries and inflammation, entitled The Red Report, can be downloaded on the Cherry Marketing Institute's (CMI) website. CMI is an organization funded by North American tart cherry growers and processors.