This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Scientific research on tart cherries is revealing their valuable health benefits. In fact, the findings are so encouraging that Dr. Oz has called this fruit the ultimate antioxidant because of its promise in treating several medical conditions.
Part of what makes this body of research so interesting is that some of the studies show tart cherry juice is equally as effective as certain medications in treating disorders.
Tart Cherry Juice Alleviates Symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s Disease
In a study involving rats published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers at Central Michigan University (CMU) found tart cherry extract may unlock a key to enhancing brain function, thereby reducing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Although the extract did not cure the illnesses, it did slow their progression.
The supplement used in the study was a mixture of tart cherries, Nordic fish oil and emu oil that had received antidotal evidence of helping people with a broad spectrum of ailments. While Gary Dunbar, the study’s author and neuroscience director at CMU, acknowledges his research is very preliminary, he asserts the results are worthy of further exploration.
Dunbar explains the three diseases are related in two ways. They are linked to malfunctions with mitochondria, structures that generate energy within brain cells and other cells. Additionally, all three illnesses ensue from a buildup of plaque inside the brain. The antioxidants found in tart cherries enhance mitochondrial function, Dunbar notes.
Tart Cherry Juice Reduces Pain Associated with Arthritis and Injury
Several studies show tart cherries have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce muscle pain associated with athletic endeavors along with joint pain associated with arthritis. One study discovered the effectiveness of this fruit is similar to that of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, a traditional treatment with an array of side effects.
Tart cherries also can relieve symptoms of gout, a painful type of arthritis linked to a buildup of uric acid in the body. This fruit enables the kidneys to function better, facilitating better elimination of uric acid.
Tart Cherry Juice May Help Fight Cancer
A study published in Cancer Letters found two antioxidants in tart cherry juice may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Another study published in Journal of Medicinal Food indicates the juice hinders one of the abnormal processes involved in the development of breast cancer.
Tart Cherry Juice Alleviates Insomnia
Several studies show tart cherry juice can help relieve insomnia, including one published in Journal of Medicinal Food. This benefit is likely due to the fruit’s ability to increase natural melatonin levels, a body chemical that induces sleep. If I may interject a person note here, I would like to give my testimonial that this extract has been the only agent that has given me relief from severe insomnia. I have tried a host of remedies over the years that either had unpleasant side effects or were not effective.
Tart Cherry Juice Lowers Factors Linked to Cardiovascular Disease
Research presented at the 2008 Experimental Biology meeting showed tart cherry juice may significantly lower blood levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, which are risk factors of cardiovascular disease. In addition, the fruit may help prevent the buildup of fat in the abdominal area, another factor linked to heart and blood vessel disorders.
A 2013 study on rats at the University of Michigan Health System suggests tart cherries provide similar benefits as a class of drugs called PPAR agonists, which are medications prescribed for metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms that present a cardiovascular risk. The long-term use of these drugs increases stroke risk, but amazingly, the cherries reduced the risk of stroke when they were administered with the PPAR agonists. Furthermore, when the rats were given only tart cherries without the drugs, they fared even better.
Tart Cherry Juice Helps Fight Diabetes
In a study published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers found antioxidants abundant in tart cherries may help reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. As the compounds increased insulin production by 50 percent, the fruit could help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes as well as assist in controlling glucose levels in those who already have the disease.