Tart Cherries Top Antioxidant List, May Aid Pain and Sleep
been near-impossible to escape the campaign to promote pomegranate
juice as a wonder food, so-called because of its high antioxidant
content. And the pomegranate craze was preceded by even greater
claims made for the purple Amazonian fruit called açai (ah-sigh-yee).
fruits enjoy status as hip new anti-aging foods, and are served
up in blender drinks from Malibu to Manhattan.
it may come as a surprise to learn that cherries especially
dried, tart cherries approximate the potent antioxidant power
of its two trendier companions.
to their association with old-fashioned fare like fruit cakes and
cocktails -- which employ truly awful cured or "Maraschino"
cherries -- people asked in surveys rank cherries as the least healthful
tart cherries have proven to be popular with our customers, so we
thought you ought to know how good they are for you.
scores place tart cherries on anti-aging pedestal
becoming increasingly clear that free radicals in the body are key
factors in aging and disease, as they promote cancer, heart disease,
body uses its own network of antioxidant enzymes and vitamins to
control free radicals, but food-borne antioxidants can boost the
bodys ability to handle cell-damaging oxygen radicals.
anthocyanin-type antioxidants that give tart cherries their deep,
rich color belong to a group of phenolic compounds called flavonoids.
among the many flavonoids found in plant foods, anthocyanins possess
the greatest antioxidant power.
cherries contain more anthocyanins than most fruits and contain
two to three times more than sweet cherries do (Kim 2005, Chandra
may ask, "What about blueberries?". Blueberries possess
a very high antioxidant count, but they are beat by prunes, raisins,
dark chocolate, pomegranates, and açai.
we're not talking about fresh tart cherries, which approximate the
antioxidant capacity of blueberries, but dried tart cherries, in
which the antioxidants are super-concentrated, along with every
other constituent in the fruit.
antioxidant power of foods is measured using a scale called Oxygen
Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC).
this scale is often used to compare the antioxidant power of foods,
it only captures part of the antioxidant picture, but for now, it
is the most widely accepted standard for comparison.
by the USDA and Brunswick Laboratories (using the USDA method),
show the following ORAC values per 100 grams (3.5 ounces):
Frozen Tart Cherries
Because its phenols get concentrated when tart cherries are dried,
this form of the fruit has a higher antioxidant score than would
fresh or frozen cherries. Vital Choice offers wild, certified
organic blueberries, which score even higher than cultivated blueberries.
While we don't doubt the claims made for pomegranates, we could
not find a documented ORAC score for them.)
researchers estimate that people need to consume 3,000 to 5,000
ORAC units of antioxidants a day to reach the level of antioxidant
capacity in the blood associated with various health benefits.
tart cherries are so rich in antioxidant power, they can go a long
way toward helping you meeting that goal.
authors of a study from Norway, who used total antioxidant content
as the basis for comparison, found that tart cherries ranked 14th
among the top 50 foods with the highest antioxidant content per
serving size, surpassing red wine, prunes, dark chocolate, and orange
juice (Halvorsen 2006).
Like most, our Organic Dried Tart Cherries contain minuscule dabs
of added organic cane sugar and organic oil. For more on this,
see Dried Berries and Cherries Draw Sugar and Oil Concerns.
(In short, given the tiny amounts involved, it's a non-issue.)
fight cancer, heart disease, and arthritis pain
have long been relied on to relieve the pain of arthritis and gout
(Blau LW 1950). And theres a good scientific reason for the
fruits folk-medicinal reputation.
at Michigan State University tested a variety of berries and other
fruits and found that tart cherries contained the highest concentrations
of two unusual phenols called anthocyanins 1 and 2: compounds not
found in blueberries or cranberries (Seeram NP et al 2001).
rare anthocyanins block the same inflammation-inducing enzymes (COX-1
and COX-2) inhibited by aspirin, ibruprofen (Advil) and newer COX-2-inhibitor
analgesics like Vioxx and Celebrex.
presence of these and other anthocyanins also make tart cherries
potent heart-health allies.
a study from the University of Michigan, varying amounts of whole
tart cherry powder were fed to rats for 90 days. The cherry-enriched
diets significantly lowered blood triglycerides and total cholesterol,
fasting glucose and insulin, and a plasma marker of oxidative damage,
while slightly raising HDL (good) cholesterol and significantly
elevating blood antioxidant capacity.
cherry-enriched diets also reduced harmful accumulation of triglycerides
and cholesterol in the liver. (Seymour 2007).
believe tart cherries may have the potential to reduce the risk
of several cancers, both because of its flavonoids and also because
cherries are rich in a phytonutrient called perillyl alcohol (POH),
related to the limonenes in citrus fruits. (Crowell PL 1996, 1997,
1999; Belanger JT 1998)
for brain power
brain is particularly susceptible to oxidative damage from free
radicals, since it accounts for about 20 percent of the total bodys
oxygen consumption, but it is only about two percent of the bodys
studies show that the phenols abundant in tart cherries protect
brain cells from oxidative damage.
an animal study from Korea confirms that dietary cherries protect
brain neurons from oxidative damage, to extents that correspond
to the amounts of anthocyanins in the fruit (Kim 2005).
as sleep aids
with walnuts, cherries are one of the few good food sources of melatonin:
a bodily potent antioxidant produced in the pineal gland, which
regulates the body's circadian rhythms and sleep patterns. Tart
cherries contain 13.5 nanograms (ng) of melatonin per gram (Burkhardt
melatonin researcher Russel J. Reiter, Ph.D. of the University of
Texas speculates that eating a handful of tart cherries may help
increase melatonin levels in the blood, thereby promoting restful
may also help protect the vascular system, lessen inflammation,
and reduce ischemia and reperfusion injury associated with surgery
(Tan 2000 and 2003, Cuzzocrea 2001, Lissoni 1997, Reiter 2001 and
by Dr. Reiter and researchers from St. Marianna University of School
of Medicine in Japan found that feeding chicks a diet containing
plants rich in melatonin indicating that dietary melatonin is absorbed
into the bloodstream and can binding to sites in the brain and other
tissues (Hattori 1995).
consider organic whole foods from both plant and animal kingdoms
to be a major key to superior health. We also think it's terribly
important to eat fish at least twice a week to get the essential
fatty acids. Here at our house, we only eat wild Alaskan salmon
and other wild seafoods from our friends at Vital Choice. Click
here to visit Vital Choice Seafood.
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