Cherry Good NightFebruary 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)
Tags: Cherries, Inflammation, Sleep
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutrition