Sour cherries are one of my favourite fruits to eat when they are in season! I have always liked the slight tart taste of sour cherries but what is even more important is the amazing health benefits that these little cherries pack into their delicious red bodies.
So while most of you might have eaten sour cherries in a delicious pie I am here to tell you why adding this as either a juice, powder or just eating the berries might be hugely beneficial, especially if you have kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, insomnia or gout.
Sour cherries, botanically classified as Prunus cerasus, is a general descriptor used for many different cultivars of tart and tangy fruits belonging to the Rosaceae family. The bright red fruits grow on trees that can reach between 4 to 10 meters in height. Sour cherries are also known as Tart cherries and Pie cherries. There are more than 300 varieties of Sour cherries, and the two most common types are Morello and Amarelle cherries, with Morello cherries being popular in Europe, while Amarelle cherries are frequently grown in North America. Within these categories, there are several cultivars, including Balaton, Early Richmond, North Star, and Montmorency.
Sour cherries are only available for a few weeks each year, and the cherries are challenging to find fresh due to their highly perishable and delicate nature. The fruits are also mechanically harvested, causing the cherries to sometimes bruise or discolour, making it difficult to sell in commercial markets. Sour cherries are primarily frozen or processed in syrups or purees immediately after harvest.
In our new alkalising formula, which we are hoping to have ready for you all by April 2022 we have added the Montmorency cherry, this is due to the massive amount of scientific studies published about this specific cherry. So all the information below is based on this specific cherry.
So let’s take a look at what makes cherries so amazing!
Tart cherry juice is rich in various nutrients. An 8-ounce (240-ml) serving contains 119 calories and the following:
- Carbs: 28 grams
- Fibre: 5 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Vitamin A: 62% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 40% of the RDI
- Manganese: 14% of the RDI
- Potassium: 12% of the RDI
- Copper: 12% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 7% of the RDI
But it isn’t just their nutrient-dense profile that makes them such an asset to a healthy kidney diet. Sour cherries have been shown to have the following medicinal actions:
- Cardiovascular protection
- Improves sleep quality
- Boost immune function
- Lowers Uric Acid
- Effective in treating Arthritis and Gout
Anti Oxidant Properties
Cherries contain several phenolic compounds whose biological activities have been recently investigated in different experimental models. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties have been demonstrated and the molecular mechanisms are summarized in the table below:
We often talk about the role that antioxidants play in kidney and heart disease. Sour cherries are packed full of antioxidants that help mop up free radicals that are responsible for causing cell damage and accelerated aging due to the damage free radicals can cause to tissues and our DNA. Therefore having a diet rich in antioxidants is a great way to protect our cells from damage and improve cellular function, especially in the kidneys where diabetes and elevated blood pressure wreak havoc on our all-important kidney tissue.
Several studies have demonstrated that adding sour cherries to one’s diet inhibits inflammatory pathways. This is thought to be due to cherries naturally occurring levels of anthocyanins. These same studies have shown a decrease in blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and nitric oxide (NO) in healthy subjects after intake of cherries (280 g/die) for 28 days.
Elevated levels of serum CRP is one of the most important indicators of inflammation and it is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The decrease in plasma CRP levels after cherry intake suggests a reduction in inflammation that may affect the risk for cardiovascular diseases. Also, the increased production of NO and their reaction product peroxynitrite (ONOO-) contribute to oxidative stress, tissue injury and an increase of their plasma concentrations are implicated in a variety of rheumatic diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. It has been suggested that the decrease in plasma NO level probably results from inhibition of the enzyme nitric oxide synthase–inducible (iNOS) activity. Studies have demonstrated that anthocyanins are able to inhibit nitric oxide (NO) production and other pro-inflammatory factors such as tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), which along with CRP is another major inflammatory cytokine.
Analgesic is a medical word for pain relief, think of your common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin or ibuprofen.
Sour cherries have been demonstrated in studies to inhibit the activity of cyclooxygenase II (COX II), which is the same mechanism in which many of the common NSAIDs work. With studies show that the inhibitory activities of cherry anthocyanins are comparable to those of ibuprofen and naproxen at 10 μM concentrations. Which is pretty impressive!
COXs are pro-inflammatory enzymes that play an important role in processes such as inflammation, carcinogenesis, apoptosis, cell proliferation and angiogenesis.
In animal studies, the intake of anthocyanin-rich tart cherries reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing serum oxidative stress marker, inflammation marker CRP, a reduction in systolic blood pressure and total cholesterol. The consumption of cherries also reduced early mortality, reduced lipid deposition in the aortic artery and abdominal aorta, which is technical speak for cholesterol blocking the hearts arteries that may lead to a heart attack. A reduction in all of these markers reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality linked to cardiovascular disease.
A small human clinical trial also found that the consumption of Montmorency tart cherries lowered systolic blood pressure and also lowered insulin compared to the placebo group.
Since diabetes and cardiovascular disease are the major contributing factors to the onset of chronic kidney disease, the ability of sour cherries to reduce systolic blood pressure and regular insulin levels make them a fantastic choice of food to add to your daily dietary routine.
Arthritis and Gout
Now here is where sour cherries really shine and where they automatically spring to mind when a CKD patient asks me why they should add sour cherries to their daily food lists.
Gout is a common type of inflammatory arthritis caused by a rise in serum uric acid levels. Uric acid is a waste product that forms when the body breaks down purines. Purines are made within the body and are found in many foods.
Normally, the kidneys filter out excess uric acid, however, hyperuricaemia (high uric acid) occurs when the kidneys don’t adequately eliminate uric acid if there is an overproduction of uric acid or a combination of both.
Uric acid forms small, sharp crystals in and around the joints (ouch!) causing severe pain, swelling and tenderness to the affected areas and activating inflammatory processes within the body.
But it’s not just joints that are affected, urate crystals can also be deposited throughout the body in the skin, soft tissues and kidneys. This is where gout can become a vicious cycle for those diagnosed with CKD. The high uric acid levels form crystals in the kidneys causing more damage and can lead then to even higher uric acid levels.
Many clinical studies have shown that the consumption of sour cherries was able to reduce inflammation (as I mentioned earlier) associated with gout as well as lower serum uric acid levels.
Insomnia and Sleep Quality
Tart cherry juice may be a safe and effective way to treat insomnia and increase the amount of sleep you get each night. This is due to the naturally occurring melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleepiness, that is present in sour cherries.
Sour cherries are also high in tryptophan a precursor that helps the body synthesise melatonin and lengthen its bioactive effects in the human body.
Clinical trials have shown that supplementing or adding sour cherry juice to your diet increases melatonin production and improves overall sleep quality and sleep duration. Good news for those insomniacs amongst us!
In one study, participants suffering from insomnia drank either 16 ounces (480 ml) of tart cherry juice or the same amount of a placebo juice each day for two weeks. The cherry juice increased sleep time by an average of 85 minutes.
Studies have also suggested that sour cherry consumption is just as, if not more so, effective in reducing insomnia than the herb valerian and actually taking a melatonin supplement.
How to include cherries into your daily routine
There are many ways to include cherries into your daily routine. My favourite is drinking a glass of sour cherry juice a few hours before bed so I not only get all those amazing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects but I also get the added benefit of a good nights sleep.
You can also buy sour cherry powder if you find it hard to get the juice, and good quality juice can be quite expensive. Or you can wait until April and we will have our alkalising formulas which include high grade, therapeutic doses of Montmorency cherry extract.
If you want to get your hands on good quality sour cherries then I can highly recommend this brand – https://www.shorelinefruit.com/products this is where our sour cherry extract is coming from in our new formulas. We cant wait to share them with you.
In the meantime let us know how you like to add sour cherries to your routine by heading over to our Facebook page and leaving us a comment.
We look forward to seeing you there.