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General information about some health effects of cherries

Anthocyanins are potent antioxidants under active research for a variety of potential health benefits. Cherries contain powerful antioxidants like anthocyanins and cyanidin. One study found the antioxidant activity of these substances isolated from tart cherries was superior to that of vitamin E and comparable to commercially available antioxidant products (ref.1).
Cherry anthocyanins have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation in animals(ref.2). In an other animal study regular tart cherry intake was associated with reduced hyperlipidemia, percentage fat mass and abdominal fat (retroperitoneal) weight (ref.3).
Also in human studies the anti-inflammatory effect of tart cherries has been shown. Ingesting tart cherry juice for 7 days prior to and during a strenuous running event can minimize post-run muscle pain (ref.4).
There is a pilot study on humans suggesting that tart cherry juice has modest beneficial effects on sleep in older adults with insomnia (ref.5). Tart cherries contains melatonin (ref.6), a molecule critical in regulating the sleep-wake cycle in humans. Drinking cherry juice elevates the body concentration of melatonin which possible explaines the report of improving sleep duration and quality in healthy men and women having cherry juice supplementation (ref.7).
Patients with gout who consumed cherries over a two-day period showed a 35 % lower risk of gout attacks compared to those who did not eat the fruit (ref.8).

Scientific literature references:

1. Wang H, Nair MG, Strasburg GM, Change YC, Booren AM, Gray JI, DeWitt DL. Antioxidant and antiinflammatory activities of anthocyanins and their aglycon, cyanidin, from tart cherries. J Nat Prod 1999 Feb; 62(2) 294-6.
2. Tall JM, Seeram NP, Zhao C, Nair MG, Meyer RA, Raja SN, JM. Tart cherry anthocyanins suppress inflammation-induced pain behavior in rat. Behav. Brain Res. 2004 Aug;153 (1): 181-8.
3. Seymour EM, Lewis SK, Urcuyo-Llanes DE, Tanone II, Kirakosyan A, Kaufman PB, Bolling SF. Regular tart cherry intake alters abdominal adiposity, adipose gene transcription, and inflammation in obesity-prone rats fed a high fat diet. J Med Food. 2009 Oct;12(5):935-42.
4. Kuehl KS, Perrier ET, Elliot DL, Chestnutt J. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2010;7:17-22.
5. Pigeon WR, Carr M, Gorman C, Perlis ML. Effects of a tart cherry juice beverage on the sleep of older adults with insomnia: a pilot study. J Med Food. 2010 Jun;13(3):579-83.
6. Burkhardt S, Tan DX, Manchester LC, Hardeland R, Reiter RJ. Detection and quantification of the antioxidant melatonin in Montmorency and Balaton tart cherries (Prunus cerasus). J Agric Food Chem. 2001;49(10):4898-4902.
7. Howatson G, Bell PG, Tallent J, Middleton B, McHugh MP, Ellis J. Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Eur J Nutr. 2012 Dec;51(8):909-16.
8. Zhang Y, Neogi T, Chen C, Chaisson C, Hunter D, Choi H. Cherry consumption and the risk of recurrent gout attacks. Arthritis & Rheumatism. 2012 Sept. 28.