Tart cherry supplements and juice can help lower heart disease and Type 2 diabetes risk, advise researchers By Divina Ramirez for Prevention
According to a recent study, tart cherry juice and supplements can help people with metabolic syndrome. A team of researchers from the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K. conducted a trial involving people with metabolic syndrome and found that consuming Montmorency tart cherries can reduce systolic blood pressure and insulin levels.
What is metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that can increase a person’s likelihood of developing cardiovascular complications. Healthcare professionals agree that the following are risk factors for metabolic syndrome: high blood pressure, insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, excessive fatty acids and insufficient good cholesterol. Other risk factors to consider are age, family history of metabolic syndrome and physical fitness. (Related: Adolescents with low muscle mass at risk of developing metabolic syndrome.)
In the U.S. alone, about 23 percent of adults are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. However, while healthcare professionals note that having just one of the risk factors does not automatically lead to a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, each factor does increase a person’s risk of developing health complications in the long run. In particular, two of the most important risk factors to look out for are obesity and insulin resistance. If left unchecked, obesity could lead to serious conditions such as heart attack and stroke. On the other hand, insulin resistance – marked by high blood sugar levels – makes it difficult for the body to process sugar. Insulin resistance often results in Type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and eye damage.
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A promising intervention
The researchers observed 11 participants with metabolic syndrome. The participants had to fulfill certain criteria that indicated the possibility of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Some of these markers included waist circumference, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, among others. The participants were given tart cherry juice, tart cherry capsules and a placebo drink. The team then monitored the effects of the juice, capsules and placebo on the participants over the span of six weeks.
The researchers found that consumption of tart cherry juice and supplements significantly reduced blood pressure and insulin levels in the participants. Consumption of tart cherries in either juice or capsule form also helped reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. The study, published in Journal of Functional Foods, proved for the first time that tart cherries could reduce high levels of insulin in the body, a cardiometabolic marker linked to obesity and excessive glucose in the blood. As such, the researchers recommended that tart cherries be considered for the treatment of isolated systolic hypertension and metabolic syndrome.
According to lead author Terun Desai, adults diagnosed with metabolic syndrome can benefit from incorporating tart cherries into their diet.
Treating metabolic syndrome
Physicians often prescribe synthetic drugs to patients who suffer from cardiovascular complications. However, these medications often cause undesirable side effects.
On the other hand, following a healthy diet and maintaining an active lifestyle helps reduce the risk of serious health problems. Additionally, as the Hertfordshire study showed, tart cherry could also be instrumental in treating metabolic syndrome.
Benefits of tart cherry juice and supplements
Montmorency tart cherries – the most popular cherries for pies in the U.S. – are not only known for their rich, tangy flavor, they also offer numerous health benefits. Here are some of them:
- Provides plenty of nutrients – Montmorency tart cherries are rich in fiber, protein, manganese and potassium. These nutrients help strengthen the immune system and prevent infections.
- Improves sleep – Tart cherries are naturally rich in melatonin, that is, the hormone responsible for inducing sleep. Hence, tart cherries can not only help treat sleep disorders like insomnia, they can also help improve the quality of one’s sleep.
- Treats arthritis and gout – Due to the anti-inflammatory property of tart cherries, researchers have used them to treat individuals with arthritis and gout. One study published in the Journal of Food Studies showed that tart cherry juice helped reduce joint inflammation in women with osteoarthritis. In another study, researchers from Boston University Medical Center found that the consumption of tart cherries helped prevent the inflammation of tissues and joints in patients with gout.
- Enhances short-term memory – The antioxidants present in tart cherries keep brain cells healthy. Hence, consuming tart cherries help prevent degenerative brain diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Montmorency tart cherries are not only nutritious, they also do great things for your health. Add this superfood to your diet to reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome.