Sweet cherry consumption associated with inhibiting oxidative stress, inflammation

In a review of 29 published human studies, Dr. Darshan S. Kelley – with Dr. Yuriko Adkins and Dr. Kevin D. Laugero – found that sweet cherries, rich in polyphenols and vitamin C, appear to offer health benefits to those with chronic inflammatory diseases. “A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries,” published this past March in the journal Nutrients, found consumption of sweet cherries decreased oxidative stress, inflammation, blood pressure and severity of arthritis and improved sleep quality.

According to Dr. Kelley, sweet cherries are low in calories, but deliver high concentrations of nutrients and bioactive components, such as fiber, polyphenols, carotenoids, vitamin C and potassium. Researchers reviewed human studies conducted with cherries and considered published results from animal and in vitro tests. Altogether, findings indicate that sweet cherry consumption may reduce risk for chronic inflammatory diseases including arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Evidence also suggests improved sleep and cognitive functions.

Key findings from the review:

  • Oxidative stress decreased – or antioxidant capacity increased – in 8 of 10 human studies. Markers that were altered included plasma, oxygen radical absorbing capacity, ferric reducing ability, total serum antioxidant status, plasma F2-isoprostane and lipid peroxidation.
  • Inflammation reduction was apparent in 11 of 16 studies of cherry consumption.
  • Healthy glucose regulation may result from sweet cherry consumption,  further studies are recommended to determine if findings translate to reduced risk of diabetes.
  • An early study demonstrated that cherry consumption prevented attacks of gout, while another recent study found a 35% lower risk of gout attacks among those who consumed sweet cherry products over two days.
  • Literature shows that regular consumption of sweet cherries can lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure; the result may be attributed to the resulting decrease of a potent vasoconstrictor compound and/or an increase of a vasodilator.
  • In four studies, participants’ quality and quantity of sleep improved, as did anxiety and mood.

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