Cherry Good Night

February 17, 2012 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

One of my current passions is to seek out the best-of-the-best fruits and encourage my clients, family and friends to eat more of them. By “best-of-the-best”, I mean fruits that offer a major upside and little, if any, downside. This is sometimes embodied in fruits that are high in fiber and/or nutrient dense. Other times, the fruits in question are superlative reservoirs of health promoting, but non-nutritive phytochemicals. And, of course, these fruits should also be appropriate for anyone mindful of their blood sugar and weight. After all, in my opinion, the majority of us would do well to eat as though we were at risk for diabetes and overweight.

At the beginning of 2011, a summary article about cherries appeared in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. In it, researchers from the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona, Tucson took a hard look at the current state of evidence regarding this delectable fruit. Their findings were welcome news for cherry lovers the world over. For starters, they noted that cherries provide a valuable source of both nutrients (potassium and Vitamin C) and phytochemicals (anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamates and quercetin). They go on to state that, “cherries exhibit relatively high antioxidant activity, low glycemic response, COX 1 and 2 enzyme inhibition, and other anti-carcinogenic effects in vitro and in animal experiments”.

Cherries are also one of the most abundant food sources of melatonin, the pineal hormone which plays an integral part in falling and staying asleep. Three recent studies reveal that consuming cherries or cherry juice prior to bedtime increases immobility, sleep efficiency and total sleep time. These benefits were reported in adults of all ages and even in those living with chronic insomnia. What’s more, there’s another major upside to using cherries to support healthier sleep. They’re capable of reducing inflammation and muscle pain. Thus far, several trials have examined the effects of cherry “supplementation” in physically active adults. The preliminary evidence indicates that cherries limit muscle damage caused by intensive exercise and promote recovery. One of the primary mechanisms involved has to do with the ability of cherries to safely reduce levels of COX1 and 2 enzymes and uric acid – substances implicated in inflammatory conditions including arthritis and gout.

In terms of the impact of cherries on blood sugar and insulin response, it’s important to point out that they possess a surprisingly low glycemic index of 22. And, an entire bowl of cherries yields an impressive glycemic load of only 7! Cherries have also been shown to improve various aspects of diabetic health (glucose levels, kidney and liver function) in animals with poor blood sugar control and related comorbidities. Even so, I still suggest that diabetics and those on low carbohydrate diets check their blood sugar when consuming cherries to verify their own personal response. But, bear in mind that this is only a precaution and not based on any troublesome data that I’ve come across. Last but not least, I wanted to share my own tip about how to best enjoy cherries: I eat them with a handful of raw walnuts before going to bed. Walnuts are also a good source of melatonin and combining them with cherries further reduces any impact they’re likely to have on blood sugar fluctuations throughout the night.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 - Cherries and Health: A Review (link)

Study 2 - Effect of Tart Cherry Juice (Prunus Cerasus) on Melatonin Levels and (link)

Study 3 – Jerte Valley Cherry-Enriched Diets Improve Nocturnal Rest(link)

Study 4 - Effects of a Tart Cherry Juice Beverage on the Sleep of Older Adults (link)

Study 5 - Montmorency Cherry Juice Reduces Muscle Damage Caused by (link)

Study 6 - Influence of Tart Cherry Juice on Indices of Recovery Following (link)

Study 7 - Anti Diabetic Effect of Cherries in Alloxan Induced Diabetic Rats (link)

Study 8 - Regular Tart Cherry Intake Alters Abdominal Adiposity, Adipose (link)

Study 9 - Altered Hyperlipidemia, Hepatic Steatosis, and Hepatic Peroxisome (link)

Study 10 - Melatonin in Walnuts: Influence on Levels of Melatonin and (link)

Cherry Juice Intake Improves Antioxidant Defenses in Older Adults

Source: J Nutr. 2009 Oct;139(10):1896-900. (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutrition

11 Comments & Updates to “Cherry Good Night”

  1. Sesaria Ramos Says:

    Its good to know that cherries can help you sleep. I do have trouble falling asleep at nite. I hope that they will help me.
    I love cherries. But they are expensive. if they werent so expensive I would buy them more often when they are in season. I also love strawberries. Same thing.
    Thank you for tips.

  2. JP Says:

    Thank you, Sesaria!

    You might look for unsweetened cherry juice concentrates online or at your local health food store(s). Tart cherry concentrates are often more affordable, attainable and may also improve your quality of sleep. Just something to consider …

    Be well!

    JP

  3. JP Says:

    Update: More support for the cherry-sleep connection …

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23732552

    J Nutr Health Aging. 2013;17(6):553-60.

    A Jerte valley cherry product provides beneficial effects on sleep quality. Influence on aging.

    OBJECTIVE: In the present work, we evaluated the effect of the intake of a Jerte Valley cherry-based product (JVCP), compared to a placebo product, on sleep quality, urinary 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (aMT6-s) levels and the serum concentration of interleukin-1β (IL-1β), tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) and interleukin-8 (IL-8).

    DESIGN: This was a blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, crossover study.

    SETTING: University of Extremadura (Spain).

    PARTICIPANTS: Ten young (20-30 years old), ten middle-aged (35-55 years old), and ten elderly (65-85 years old) participants.

    INTERVENTION: A placebo (Kool-Aid®) or JVCP (patent no. ES 2342141 B1) were consumed twice a day, as lunch and dinner desserts.

    MEASUREMENTS: Actigraphic monitoring was used to record and display the temporal patterns of the individuals’ activity and rest. Urinary aMT6-s and serum cytokines (IL-1β, TNF-α and IL-8) were also determined.

    RESULTS: The consumption of the JVCP improved the nocturnal rest, measured by sleep efficiency, number of awakenings, total nocturnal activity, sleep latency, assumed sleep, actual sleep time and immobility. Moreover, it was detected an increase in both the levels of aMT6-s found in first-void morning urine and the concentrations of serum pro-somnogenic cytokines obtained from samples collected at the acrophase of the melatonin rhythm (1.00 am) in all experimental age groups after the JVCP consumption. Generally, better results were obtained with advancing age.

    CONCLUSION: The ingestion of the JVCP may contribute to establish a high-quality sleep and be used as a potential nutraceutical tool to prevent sleep disorders with the advance of age.

    Be well!

    JP

  4. JP Says:

    Update 05/18/15:

    http://www.jissn.com/content/12/1/22

    Influence of a montmorency cherry juice blend on indices of exercise-induced stress and upper respiratory tract symptoms following marathon running—a pilot investigation

    Background: Prolonged exercise, such as marathon running, has been associated with an increase in respiratory mucosal inflammation. The aim of this pilot study was to examine the effects of Montmorency cherry juice on markers of stress, immunity and inflammation following a Marathon.

    Methods: Twenty recreational Marathon runners consumed either cherry juice (CJ) or placebo (PL) before and after a Marathon race. Markers of mucosal immunity secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA), immunoglobulin G (IgG), salivary cortisol, inflammation (CRP) and self-reported incidence and severity of upper respiratory tract symptoms (URTS) were measured before and following the race.

    Results: All variables except secretory IgA and IgG concentrations in saliva showed a significant time effect (P <0.01). Serum CRP showed a significant interaction and treatment effect (P < 0.01). The CRP increase at 24 and 48 h post-Marathon was lower (P < 0.01) in the CJ group compared to PL group. Mucosal immunity and salivary cortisol showed no interaction effect or treatment effect. The incidence and severity of URTS was significantly greater than baseline at 24 h and 48 h following the race in the PL group and was also greater than the CJ group (P < 0.05). No URTS were reported in the CJ group whereas 50 % of runners in the PL group reported URTS at 24 h and 48 h post-Marathon.

    Conclusions: This is the first study that provides encouraging evidence of the potential role of Montmorency cherries in reducing the development of URTS post-Marathon possibly caused by exercise-induced hyperventilation trauma, and/or other infectious and non-infectious factors.

    Be well!

    JP

  5. JP Says:

    Update 06/08/15:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26036434

    J Pineal Res. 2015 Jun 3.

    Melatonin improves bone mineral density (BMD) at the femoral neck in post-menopausal women with osteopenia: A randomized controlled trial.

    Melatonin is known for its regulation of circadian rhythm. Recently, studies have shown that melatonin may have a positive effect on the skeleton. By increasing age, the melatonin levels decrease, which may lead to a further imbalanced bone remodeling. We aimed to investigate whether treatment with melatonin could improve bone mass and integrity in humans. In a double-blind RCT, we randomized 81 post-menopausal osteopenic women to one-year daily treatment with melatonin 1mg (N=20), or 3mg (N=20), or placebo (N=41). At baseline and after one-year treatment, we measured BMD by DXA, quantitative computed tomography (QCT), and high resolution peripheral QCT (HR-pQCT), and determined calcitropic hormones and bone markers. Mean age of the study subjects was 63 (range 56-73) years. Compared to placebo, femoral neck BMD increased by 1.4% in response to melatonin (p<0.05) in a dose-dependent manner (p<0.01), as BMD increased by 0.5% in the 1mg/d group (p=0.55) and by 2.3% (p<0.01) in the 3mg/d group. In the melatonin group, trabecular thickness in tibia increased by 2.2% (p=0.04), and vBMD in the spine by 3.6% (p=0.04) in the 3mg/d. Treatment did not significantly affect BMD at other sites or levels of bone turnover markers, however, 24h urinary calcium was decreased in response to melatonin by 12.2% (p=0.02). In conclusion, one-year treatment with melatonin increased BMD at femoral neck in a dose-dependent manner, while high dose melatonin increased vBMD in the spine. Further studies are needed to assess the mechanisms of action and whether the positive effect of night-time melatonin will protect against fractures.

    Be well!

    JP

  6. JP Says:

    Updated 10/22/15:

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00394-015-1083-y

    Eur J Nutr. 2015 Oct 19.

    Consumption of anthocyanin-rich cherry juice for 12 weeks improves memory and cognition in older adults with mild-to-moderate dementia.

    PURPOSE: Dietary flavonoids, including anthocyanins, may positively influence cognition and may be beneficial for the prevention and treatment of dementia. We aimed to assess whether daily consumption of anthocyanin-rich cherry juice changed cognitive function in older adults with dementia. Blood pressure and anti-inflammatory effects were examined as secondary outcomes.

    METHODS: A 12-week randomised controlled trial assessed cognitive outcomes in older adults (+70 year) with mild-to-moderate dementia (n = 49) after consumption of 200 ml/day of either a cherry juice or a control juice with negligible anthocyanin content. Blood pressure and inflammatory markers (CRP and IL-6) were measured at 6 and 12 weeks. ANCOVA controlling for baseline and RMANOVA assessed change in cognition and blood pressure.

    RESULTS: Improvements in verbal fluency (p = 0.014), short-term memory (p = 0.014) and long-term memory (p ≤ 0.001) were found in the cherry juice group. A significant reduction in systolic (p = 0.038) blood pressure and a trend for diastolic (p = 0.160) blood pressure reduction was evident in the intervention group. Markers of inflammation (CRP and IL-6) were not altered.

    CONCLUSION: Inclusion of an anthocyanin-rich beverage may be a practical and feasible way to improve total anthocyanin consumption in older adults with mild-to-moderate dementia, with potential to improve specific cognitive outcomes.

    Be well!

    JP

  7. JP Says:

    Updated 2/8/16:

    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/09637486.2015.1121472

    Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2016 Feb;67(1):47-52.

    Acute reduction in blood pressure following consumption of anthocyanin-rich cherry juice may be dose-interval dependant: a pilot cross-over study.

    A pilot cross-over study assessed the acute effects on blood pressure and plasma biomarkers associated with consumption of a 300 ml anthocyanin-rich fruit juice, provided in differing dose-intervals. Young adults (n = 6) and older adults (n = 7) received in random order, either a single 300 ml dose or 3 × 100 ml doses of high-flavonoid cherry juice provided at 0, 1 and 2 h. Blood pressure and plasma levels of phenolic metabolites were measured at 0, 2 and 6 h.The single 300 ml dose of cherry juice resulted in a significant reduction in systolic (p = 0.002), and diastolic blood pressure (p = 0.008) and heart-rate (p = 0.033) 2 h after consumption, before returning to baseline levels at 6 h post-consumption. The 3 × 100 ml dose provided over 2 h did not result in significant blood pressure reductions. Plasma phenolic metabolites increased at 2 and 6 h; however, fluctuations were higher after the single 300 ml dose in older adults. These findings have implications for design of intervention studies that investigate vascular effects associated with flavonoid-rich foods.

    Be well!

    JP

  8. JP Says:

    Updated 01/08/17:

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0169216

    PLoS One. 2017 Jan 6;12(1):e0169216.

    Associations of Self-Reported Sleep Quality with Circulating Interferon Gamma-Inducible Protein 10, Interleukin 6, and High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein in Healthy Menopausal Women.

    INTRODUCTION: Sleep disturbance is very common in menopausal women and poor sleep quality has been linked to systemic inflammation. However, the impact of poor sleep quality on health outcomes of menopausal women remains unclear. This study evaluated the relationships between sleep quality and inflammation in menopausal women.

    PARTICIPANTS AND DESIGN: This cross-sectional study enrolled 281 healthy women aged 45 to 60 years. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was used to measure quality of sleep. Multiplex assays were used to measure the levels of 9 cytokines in morning fasting plasma samples. Other variables measured in this study included clinical characteristics and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP).

    SETTING: The study was performed at a medical center.

    RESULTS: The 281 participants comprised 79 (28%) perimenopausal women and 202 (72%) postmenopausal women. Global PSQI scores were positively correlated with plasma hs-CRP levels (P = 0.012) and were marginally associated with interferon gamma-inducible protein-10 (IP10), interleukin 6 (IL6), and macrophage inflammatory protein-1beta (MIP-1β) levels. After adjusting for age, body mass index, menopause duration, and follicle stimulating hormone, multiple linear regression analysis revealed that high PSQI scores and sleep efficiency < 65% were associated with elevated plasma levels of hs-CRP, IP10, and IL6. In addition, sleep duration < 5 hours was associated with high hs-CRP levels.

    CONCLUSION: Our data show that poor sleep quality and low sleep efficiency are associated with elevated levels of circulating inflammatory factors IP10, IL6 and hs-CRP and that short sleep duration is associated with high levels of hs-CRP in menopausal women. These findings provide novel evidence that poor sleep quality is linked to low-grade systemic inflammation in menopausal women.

    Be well!

    JP

  9. JP Says:

    Updated 02/14/17:

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-015-1083-y

    Eur J Nutr. 2017 Feb;56(1):333-341.

    Consumption of anthocyanin-rich cherry juice for 12 weeks improves memory and cognition in older adults with mild-to-moderate dementia.

    PURPOSE: Dietary flavonoids, including anthocyanins, may positively influence cognition and may be beneficial for the prevention and treatment of dementia. We aimed to assess whether daily consumption of anthocyanin-rich cherry juice changed cognitive function in older adults with dementia. Blood pressure and anti-inflammatory effects were examined as secondary outcomes.

    METHODS: A 12-week randomised controlled trial assessed cognitive outcomes in older adults (+70 year) with mild-to-moderate dementia (n = 49) after consumption of 200 ml/day of either a cherry juice or a control juice with negligible anthocyanin content. Blood pressure and inflammatory markers (CRP and IL-6) were measured at 6 and 12 weeks. ANCOVA controlling for baseline and RMANOVA assessed change in cognition and blood pressure.

    RESULTS: Improvements in verbal fluency (p = 0.014), short-term memory (p = 0.014) and long-term memory (p ≤ 0.001) were found in the cherry juice group. A significant reduction in systolic (p = 0.038) blood pressure and a trend for diastolic (p = 0.160) blood pressure reduction was evident in the intervention group. Markers of inflammation (CRP and IL-6) were not altered.

    CONCLUSION: Inclusion of an anthocyanin-rich beverage may be a practical and feasible way to improve total anthocyanin consumption in older adults with mild-to-moderate dementia, with potential to improve specific cognitive outcomes.

    Be well!

    JP

  10. JP Says:

    Updated 10/02/17:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28901958

    Am J Ther. 2017 Mar 27.

    Pilot Study of the Tart Cherry Juice for the Treatment of Insomnia and Investigation of Mechanisms.

    BACKGROUND: Insomnia is common in the elderly and is associated with chronic disease, but use of hypnotics increases the incidence of falls. Montmorency tart cherry juice has improved insomnia by self-report questionnaire.

    STUDY QUESTION: Is insomnia confirmed by polysomnography and is tryptophan availability a potential mechanism for treating insomnia?

    STUDY DESIGN: A placebo-controlled balanced crossover study with subjects older than 50 years and insomnia were randomized to placebo (2 weeks) or cherry juice (2 weeks) (240 mL 2 times/d) separated by a 2-week washout.

    MEASURES AND OUTCOMES: Sleep was evaluated by polysomnography and 5 validated questionnaires. Serum indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), the kynurenine-to-tryptophan ratio, and prostaglandin E2 were measured. In vitro, Caco-2 cells were stimulated with interferon-gamma, and the ability of cherry juice procyanidin to inhibit IDO which degrades tryptophan and stimulates inflammation was measured. The content of procyanidin B-2 and other major anthocyanins in cherry juice were determined.

    RESULTS: Eleven subjects were randomized; 3 with sleep apnea were excluded and referred. The 8 completers with insomnia increased sleep time by 84 minutes on polysomnography (P = 0.0182) and sleep efficiency increased on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (P = 0.03). Other questionnaires showed no significant differences. The serum kynurenine-to-tryptophan ratio decreased, as did the level of prostaglandin E2 (both P < 0.05). In vitro, cherry juice procyanidin B-2 dose-dependently inhibited IDO.

    CONCLUSIONS: Cherry juice increased sleep time and sleep efficiency. Cherry juice procyanidin B-2 inhibited IDO, increased tryptophan availability, reduced inflammation, and may be partially responsible for improvement in insomnia.

    Be well!

    JP

  11. JP Says:

    Updated 02/01/19:

    https://journals.lww.com/jclinrheum/Abstract/publishahead/A_Randomized_Internet_Based_Pilot_Feasibility_and.99071.aspx

    J Clin Rheumatol. 2019 Jan 23.

    A Randomized Internet-Based Pilot Feasibility and Planning Study of Cherry Extract and Diet Modification in Gout.

    OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to conduct a 9-month pilot Internet randomized controlled trial (RCT) of cherry extract and diet modification in gout to assess the feasibility of an Internet study and obtain effect estimates.

    METHODS: After providing online informed consent in response to Internet advertisements and social media or clinic flyers, 84 people with physician-confirmed gout were randomized to either cherry extract 3,600 mg/d (n = 41) or dietitian-assisted diet modification for gout (n = 43). All study outcomes were collected via Internet and phone calls. The primary objective was the feasibility of an Internet study, and secondary objectives were to obtain effect estimates for gout flares, functional ability assessed with the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), and adverse events (AEs) for future trials.

    RESULTS: Of the 84 people randomized, overall completion rates were more than 80% for most study procedures up to 6 months and similar for the 2 active comparators. Improvements were seen in gout flares and HAQ scores in cherry extract and diet modification groups at 9 months compared with baseline: gout flares per month, 0.22 versus 0.36 (p = 0.049) and 0.28 versus 0.31 (p = 0.76); proportion with any gout flare, 56% versus 98% (p < 0.0001) and 65% versus 98% (p = 0.0002); and mean ± standard deviation HAQ score, 0.28 ± 0.54 versus 0.55 ± 0.68 (p = 0.001) and 0.23 ± 0.40 versus 0.48 ± 0.61 (p = 0.06), respectively. Any AEs and gastrointestinal symptoms/AEs at 9 months in cherry extract and diet modification groups were 3% versus 0% and 28% versus 27%, respectively.

    CONCLUSIONS: An Internet gout RCT is feasible for nonpharmacological gout treatments. A hypothesis-testing, large Internet RCT of cherry extract versus placebo is needed.

    Be well!

    JP

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