Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cherry: Nature's Pain-Killer?

Cherries can be sweet or delightfully tart. They can be eaten fresh or used in cooking. If you enjoy cherries, you’re in luck. Various researches point to the many health benefits of the cherry fruit. These delicious treats are resplendent in antioxidants, well-known for capturing damaging free radicals to prevent cellular damage. They are famously low in saturated fats and sodium and high in dietary fiber. They also boost high levels of melatonin, another antioxidant often used as a sleeping aid and they also exert anti-inflammatory properties. With so many health qualities attached, what’s not to like about cherries?

Pain in any form or shape can be debilitating and compromise your quality of life. Often, people medicate pain with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs such as aspirin, Tylenol or ibuprofen). If you experience adverse effects from taking these synthetic pain-killers or found very little relief—consider cherries. Researchers from Michigan State University uncovered promising findings when they isolated the various components of cherries. They found that the antioxidant properties of tart cherry are more superior when compared to vitamin E, vitamin C and synthetic antioxidants. In addition they offer more anti-inflammatory effects than aspirin.

What makes cherries’ antioxidants so powerful? You can attribute it to the power of the bright color found in cherries, courtesy of a group of powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. Muralee Nair, one of the lead professors involved in the research revealed this astounding finding: “Twenty cherries provide 25 milligrams of anthocyanins, which help to shut down the enzymes that cause tissue inflammation in the first place, so cherries can prevent and treat many kinds of pain.” This pain ameliorating effects of cherries has relief implication for other forms of rheumatoid and arthritic conditions. In addition, he pointed out that anthocyanins may also protect artery walls from plaque buildup and heart diseases.

Exactly what kind of pain relief? To begin with, researchers at the Baylor Research Institute found that cherries offer osteoarthritic pain relief. They found that more than half of the patients involved in the study reported significant improvement in pain and function of impacted joints after taking tart cherry pills for eight weeks. This is especially good news for the 21 millions of Americans grappling with osteoarthritis.

Mayo clinic also reported how cherries may be used to moderate pain caused by gout, another common form of arthritis, often associated with sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints, especially the joint at the base of the big toe. High level of uric acid is often blamed for gout and studies have shown that cherries can lower uric acid. Mayo clinic suggests that adding cherries together with other anthocyanin-infused fruits like blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and grapes may be a good way to supplement your gout treatment.

Cherries can be found in your local supermarkets—fresh, dried, frozen, in juice form or concentrate—they are very versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. Make them a part of your diet. Eat them as snacks, in trail mix, as desserts, in smoothies, in cereals or used them in baking. Taking cherry extract supplements is another alternative.

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