For the millions who suffer debilitating joint pain and arthritis, tart cherries may help to significantly reduce inflammation and pain. New research from Oregon Health & Science University presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference (ACSM) in San Francisco, Calif. suggests that tart cherries have the "highest anti-inflammatory content of any food" and can help people with osteoarthritis manage their disease.
In a study of twenty women ages 40 to 70 with inflammatory osteoarthritis, the researchers discovered that consuming tart cherry juice two times a day over the course of three weeks led to surprising reductions in important inflammation markers – especially for those women who had the highest inflammation levels in the beginning.
"With millions of Americans looking for ways to naturally manage pain, it's promising that tart cherries can help, without the possible side effects often associated with arthritis medications," said Kerry Kuehl, M.D, Dr.PH., M.S., Oregon Health & Science University, principal study investigator. "I'm intrigued by the potential for a real food to offer such a powerful anti-inflammatory benefit – especially for active adults."
The benefits of tart cherries could be particularly valuable for athletes, according to Kuehl's prior research. In a past study he found that long-distance runners who drank tart cherry juice reported much less pain after exercise than those who abstained.
Anthocyanins, the antioxidant in tart cherries that lead to their bright red color, are the compound that have been specifically linked to high antioxidant capacity and reduced inflammation, at levels equal to common pain medications.
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