Marissa-Catherine Carrarini on how to ease arthritic pain, enjoy the antioxidant queen and be happy!
With their sharp, sweet taste and deep red colour, cherries are a traditional English summer delicacy that have made their way into many of the nations favourite treats. Indeed, where would an afternoon tea be without Black Forest gateau, summer pudding or a bakewell tart? yet more than just a lovely taste on a summer's day, the cherry, especially the sour cherry, is the latest food to be crowned with the superfoods status. The major reason why cherries are so nutritious is because they are so wealthy in a flavonoid called anthocyanins.
First and foremost, anthocyanins are mega-antioxidants. In fact, cherries are so high in antioxidants that they can easily rival blueberries and many other superfoods in the battle to be the antioxidant queen. Thanks to their antioxidant quality, cherries have a powerful ability to find and destroy harmful free radicals within the body, thereby protecting you from all the ill effects of smoking, pollution, stress and a bad diet. Plus cherries are powerfully anticancer - most notably, anti-bowel cancer.
Heart & Liver Health
Another plus point for anthocyanins is their ability to keep heart disease at bay. Anthocyanins lower the bad LDL cholesterol levels in the arteries and at the same time they keep good cholesterol at a healthy high. Cherries are also thought to relax the arteries (preventing them from being clogged up) and protect arteries from oxidative damage. Cherries prevent the liver from getting "fatty", by keeping liver cholesterol and harmful triglycerides low.
Anthocyanins are also known to reduce inflammation and are thought to reduce levels of nitric oxide - a key player in arthritis. Cherries are a wonderful medicine to reduce the painful inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis for this reason. Plus, according to nutritionist Liz Copeland (www.tranzformations.co.uk) "cherries help reduce uric acid - which is why cherries help to prevent gout"
Anthocyanins also have a remarkable ability to relieve pain, especially when related to arthritis and gout. In fact, strong are the pain relieving properties, this food could easilt rival aspirin. As an added bonus, cherries help t keep joints nice and healthy and Montmorency cherries (a variety of sour cherry) are thought to help sore muscles.
Cherries, especially the Montmorency variety, may help improve disturbed sleep, insomnia and even jet lag, thanks to their high levels of melatonin - chemical that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin may also protect the cardio-vascular system and keep inflammation at bay
Ward Off Diabetes
New research has revealed that cherries may be of significant benefit for diabetics and those in a pre-diabetic state. As well as being low GI, new research has shown that sour cherries have a unique ability to lower glucose levels in the blood, which will help diabetics manage their symptoms more easily and can keep type 2 diabetes at bay. Plus, cherries are rich in potassium, which stimulates insulin production.
Full of Nutrients
Other cherry-rich nutrients include: anaemia-beating iron, bone strengthening magnesium and calcium and immune-strengthening vitamin C. The vitamin C in cherries will also help the body absorb the iron. "Cherry's flavonoid content will protect its vitamin C from degrading quickly. Without flavonoids, vitamin C would not work properly", said Copeland. Plus, cherries contain vitamin A, which is known to keep skin healthy and acne-free. Cherries are also rich in vitamin E. Not only is vitamin E a powerful antioxidant, it works wonders for keeping skin supple and wrinkle free, And to top it off, cherries are thought to improve memory.
Lifescape (www.lifescapemag.com) - July/August 2008