The Colour of Cherries

Flavonoids with flavour

The Colour of Cherries

While carrot juice is still a favourite among health-conscious consumers, tart red cherry juice concentrate is gaining popularity as studies of its healing and preventive properties spread.

Flavonoids Fight Disease

The deep colour of tart red cherries is a clue to their health-promoting properties. They contain flavonoids called anthocyaninsnaturally occurring pigment compounds that impart colour to fruit, vegetables, and plants. Flavonoids, which contain antioxidants, help to protect the plant from disease. Research has shown that these natural plant chemicals also help remove toxins from the body.

Antioxidants help neutralize the free-radical cellular damage that accumulates in the body through factors such as stress, pollution, and a poor diet. Free-radical damage can result in degenerative diseases such as cancer. Two of the most potent anticancer agentsthe flavonoids isoquercitrin and queritrinare found in tart red cherries.

Cherry juice is also thought to be effective in preventing heart disease. In addition to its antioxidants, tart red cherries are high in potassium, an important mineral for those with high blood pressure. The anthocyanins found in cherries may also protect artery walls from damage that leads to plaque buildup and heart disease.

The Tart of Healing

While cherry juice is promoted as a healthful addition to the diet, it has also become known more specifically as a healing remedy for certain conditions such as gout, arthritis, headaches, and fibromyalgia. The anthocyanins in the cherries contain anti-inflammatory compounds. A study from Michigan State University in 2001 found that, at certain concentrations, tart red cherry juice is 10 times more effective than aspirin in treating arthritis pain and inflammation.

The amount of anthocyanins in 20 cherries is enough to shut down the enzymes that are involved in tissue inflammation. While providing relief from pain and inflammation, cherry juice does not cause the damaging side effects common with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Those who need a good night’s sleep may be interested in a recent discovery that tart cherries contain a significant quantity of melatonin. Evidence has shown that melatonin, a natural hormone in the body, is important in the body’s wake-sleep cycle. A regular, deep sleep is necessary for any type of healing in the body, as well as for the normal maintenance and repair of the body and its tissues.

A Juicy Dose

Most manufacturers and health experts are recommending two tablespoons (30 mL) of the concentrate daily, mixed with one cup (250 mL) of water, which is equal to the juice of approximately 50 to 60 whole cherries. However, check with your health professional for a dosage specific to personal health concerns.

Once again, we may look to nature for colour, taste, and an effective healing remedy.

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