Tags: cherries | antioxidants | pain | inflammation | gout | phytochemicals | arthritis

Cherries Fight Insomnia, Pain

Monday, 26 March 2012 06:19 AM

Could cherries be the next big thing in superfruit juices after the pomegranate craze?

Not only are cherries high in antioxidants, but a series of studies suggest this overlooked fruit could also be used to provide relief from pain and inflammation, serve as a sleep aid, and become useful in sports nutrition.

A report by market research group Euromonitor published this past week vaunts the health benefits of cherries and suggests it could become the next big flavor in functional foods that come with health claims.

According to ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), which measures the antioxidants in foods, for instance, fresh tart cherries contain more free radical-busting agents than strawberries, its more popular cousin, the report points out.

But fresh cherries have also been shown to help the body excrete excess uric acid which causes gout, while their phytochemicals may help combat inflammation responsible for arthritic pain, the report says.

Tart cherries have also been found to contain high levels of melatonin, a naturally occurring compound that helps regulate sleep cycles. In a 2011 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, researchers concluded that the ingestion of tart cherry concentrate improved sleep duration and quality in healthy men and women.

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The fruit's high antioxidant content has also been shown to reduce muscle damage caused by intense strength exercise, says Euromonitor, and help speed up post-exercise recovery and improve performance.

While not currently common, analysts predict that it's only a matter of time before consumers begin to see the ingredient in products as companies begin to pick up on the health benefits of the fruit.

For instance, while manufacturers are using cherry flavors in products like juices and sports drinks, few offer 100 percent cherry juice.

British energy drink brand Lucozade Body Fuel Drink Cherry contains cherry flavoring, while Ocean Spray Cherry is made with other fruit juices like cranberry and orange.

Cherry juice could prove to become a market rival for other red ‘superfruit' juices like pomegranate and cranberry, which are aggressively — and controversially — pitched as a health food product.

Though the jury is out on whether or not pomegranate juice can lower cholesterol, as claimed by the industry, like all brightly-colored fruits, pomegranates are high in antioxidants which have been shown to help reduce the build-up of cholesterol in arteries.

And while cranberry juice is mainly known for helping with urinary tract infections, Euromonitor points out that cherries offer a broader range of health benefits.

Copyright AFP/Relaxnews

© HealthDay

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Given their abundance of antioxidants and ability to relieve pain and inflammation and combat gout, cherries are likely the next superfood.
Monday, 26 March 2012 06:19 AM
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