are-montmorency-cherries-anti-inflammatory-superfoods-fb

Montmorency cherries (Prunus cerasus), also known as tart cherries are specific types of sour cherries which are native to the USA, Canada and France.

Named after the Montmorency area of France, this unique cherry variety is rich in naturally occurring phytonutrients including: anthocyanins and melatonin which have been linked to a wide range of health benefits.

Lets look into what makes this unique variety of cherries so special by reviewing the Montmorency ‘Tart Cherry’ studies and health benefits. 

Jam packed with Antioxidants

Think about a fruit or avocado turning brown. What you’re seeing is oxidative damage, a process in which cells use available oxygen and produce a harmful by product called free radicals.

Your body produces free radicals as a result of normal metabolism functions, and these are natural responses to environment toxins, inflammation and exercise. According to Dr Mercola high levels of free radicals can lead to over 60 different diseases and health conditions, including accelerated ageing.

Antioxidants are nature’s answer to oxidative damage, as they help neutralise the harmful effects of free radicals.

Your body can manufacture some antioxidants, but it relies on a diet rich in antioxidant foods to protect your body against free radicals, and this is even more applicable given our highly toxic environments.

Montmorency cherries are packed with antioxidants, featuring an ORAC value or 47,000 (per 100g powder), they have one of the highest antioxidant scores surpassing red wine and dark chocolate.

ORAC (per 100 g)

Cherry powder: 47,000

Frozen cherries: 2000

Cherry juice: 1600

Montmorency Cherries: One of the richest sources of Anthocyanins

Anthocyanins are naturally occurring pigments, which give fruits and vegetables rich red, purple and blue colours. They are called flavonoids, and they also have antioxidant effects. But in addition to fighting free radicals, anthocyanins may also have anti inflammatory, anti viral and anti-carcinogenic properties

[1].

What makes Tart cherries special is that they contain the highest concentration of anthocyanins with an average of 30-40mg per 100g of fruit.

Thats more than sweet cherries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries!

Can Tart Cherries help with Gout management?

Gout is a painful, arthritic condition of the joints which has been linked to elevated blood levels of uric acid.

Genetics, diet, lifestyle, alcohol consumption, being overweight and exposure to lead can increase the risk of gout in genetically susceptible individuals.

Unfortunately there is no known cure for gout, but it can be alleviated through a variety of treatments including prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids and medicines which lower uric acid levels.

Dr Weil recommends an anti-inflammatory diet and consuming tart cherries[2] based on research suggesting that ingesting tart cherries inhibits enzymes called cyclooxygenase-1 and -2, which are the targets of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Lets look at the findings of the Montmorency / cherry research studies available:

It all starts with Ludwig W. blau, M.D., which published a paper in the Texas Reports on Biology and Medicine (vol. 8) in 1950 describing how consuming cherry juice help him relieve the pain of gout on his toe, and how it helped provide relief to his arthritis and gout patients[3].

Patients in the study had lower blood uric acid levels which are now associated with the onset and progression of gout.

 

A study from the USDA’s human nutrition research centre at the university of California[4] found that consuming two servings of 280g of cherries after an overnight fast displayed a 15% reduction in uric acid levels, and lowered nitric oxide levels. The researchers concluded that “compounds in cherries may inhibit inflammatory pathways” associated with gout.

 

In a 4 week randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study of overweight and obese participants, researchers found that tart cherry juice may significantly reduce uric acid levels, and biomarkers of inflammation[5].

 

Another study ran by the University of Northumbria[15] found that Montmorency tart cherry juice reduced blood levels of uric acid and C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation.

 

Finally, in a crossover study of 633 participants, the Boston University Medical Centre[6] found that consuming at least 10 cherries a day lowered the risk of gout attacks by 35%.

According to the Arthritis foundation[7], these early studies show promise that daily consumption of tart cherries, either as fresh fruit, freeze dried extract capsules, or juice could help reduce the pain and recurrence associated with this painful condition.

Can Tart Cherries help with Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, which can affect any joint, but occurs mostly in the knees, hips, lower back, neck, fingers and toes.

Cartilage normally provides a smooth gliding surface for these joints, but in the case of Osteoarthritis the cartilage breaks down, causing pain, swelling and inflammation which causes further damage to the cartilage.

In a study published in the Osteoarthritis and Cartilage journal, researchers at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center found that patients who consumed two cups (240ml) of tart cherry juice for 6 weeks, experienced improvement in pain, stiffness, and physical function, as well as a decrease in high sensitivity C reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation[8].

 

In a shorter 21 day study published in the journal of food studies, subjects (all female) with Osteoarthritis taking tart cherry juice showed a statistically significant reduction in the serum biomarker (CRP)[9].

 

In another study researchers at the Baylor Research institute gave tart cherry capsules to patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. After 8 weeks, more than half the subjects experienced improvement in pain and function[10].

Whilst definitely not a cure, these early studies are showing that cherries, especially the tart variety such as Montmorency cherries could benefit sufferers.

Can Tart Cherries help with muscle recovery post workout?

In the field of elite sports performance, trainers are always looking to provide their athletes with the edge, to enable them to push harder and get more results than their competitors.

High intensity or prolonged physical activity can causes muscle damage, resulting in oxidative stress, inflammation, and pain.

As a result, muscle recovery after a workout, whether you are an elite athlete or simply want to get the most optimal gains after a workout can make or break your progress.

Early studies have shown promising muscle damage and inflammation reduction benefits related to the antioxidant anthocyanins found in tart cherries:

In a double blind, randomised trial, runners participating in a 24h relay race drank two 355ml of tart cherry juice a day for 7 days prior to the event. While both groups reported increased pain after the race, the cherry juice group reported a significantly smaller increase in pain after the race[11].

 

In another study[12], recreational Marathon runners were assigned to either consume cherry juice or a placebo for 5 days before, the day of and for 48 h following a Marathon run. Markers of muscle damage were examined before and after the race.

The group which consumed the juice had faster Isometric strength recovery and lower inflammation demonstrating an accelerated recovery following this strenuous exercise.

 

In a smaller study[13], a research team looked at the effects of repeated arm exercise (elbow flexion eccentric exercise) that typically induces muscle damage. One group drank 350ml of tart cherry juice twice daily for 8 days before the exercise, whilst the other had a placebo.

In the next four days after the workout, the arm strength of the placebo group had decreased on average by 22% whilst those who consumed the tart cherry juice diminished by only 4%.

 

Researchers at the University of Exeter studied the recovery time of 10 athletes performing intensive strength exercises. One group consumed a montmorency concentrate, whilst the other a generic isoenergetic fruit concentrate for 7 days before and 48h after the exercise.

The group consuming the Montmorency cherry concentrate displayed improved recovery of isometric muscle strength.

Whats the best way to take advantage of the health benefits of tart cherries?

There are many cherry varieties to pick from, and whilst most people re used to consuming sweet cherries, when it comes to nutritional studies, we have found that most researched type of cherry appears to the tart Montmorency cherry variety with over 50 studies to date[14].

You can consume Montmorency tart cherries fresh in season, but can also find them in frozen, dried, juice, concentrate or extract supplement format.

That said there are three key issues you may encounter:

  • Montmorency cherries are not sweet, and have a unique sour-sweet taste, which is not to everybody’s taste
  • Finding Montmorency cherries in Europe can be difficult
  • Consuming Montmorency cherries daily to get the right dosage can get expensive

If you are looking for a practical alternative to fresh tart cherries or juice, we recommend taking a Montmorency tart cherry supplement in capsule format: You’ll benefit from no tart taste, no calories, no sugar, all year round convenience and all the benefits a few capsules a day.

Montomorency-banner-en

[1] Sour Cherry (Prunus cerasus L) Anthocyanins as Ingredients for Functional Foods

Federica Blando,,* Carmela Gerardi, and Isabella Nicoletti

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082898/

[2] http://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/bone-joint/cherry-juice-to-relieve-joint-pain/T00368/Gout.html

[3] Blau LW Cherry diet control for gout and arthritis. Texas Reports on Biology and Medicine. 1950;8:309-311.

[4] Consumption of cherries lowers plasma urate in healthy women. Journal ofNutrition. 2003;

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12771324

[5] The effect of 100% tart cherry juice on serum uric acid levels, biomarkers of inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk factors

http://www.fasebj.org/content/25/1_Supplement/339.2.short

[6] Cherry Consumption and the Risk of Recurrent Gout Attacks

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3510330/

[7] How Cherries Help Fight Arthritis

http://blog.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet-cherries/

[8] Randomized double-blind crossover study of the efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23727631

[9] Efficacy of Tart Cherry Juice to Reduce Inflammation Biomarkers among Women with Inflammatory Osteoarthritis (OA)
http://www.macrothink.org/journal/index.php/jfs/article/view/1927

[10] Can Cherries Relieve the Pain of Osteoarthritis?

http://media.baylorhealth.com/releases/Can-Cherries-Relieve-the-Pain-of-Osteoarthritis

[11] Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chesnutt JC. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. Journal Int Soc Sports. 2010;7:17.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20459662

[12] Howatson G, McHugh MP, Hill JA, et al. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010;20:843-52.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19883392

[13] Connolly DAJ, McHugh MP, Padilla-Zakour OI. Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Br J Sports Med. 2006;40:679-83.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16790484

[14] CHERRY MARKETING INSTITUTE website.

[15] https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/news-events/news/2014/09/drinking-montmorency-cherry-concentrate-reduces-effects-of-gout/