Extraordinary health benefits have long been claimed for cherries, ranging from anti-inflammatory properties to cancer prevention. Modern science is now examining these claims and in many cases confirming and quantifying their veracity.
The following properties of cherries have now been established scientifically:
Cherry phenolic antioxidants, in particular anthocyanins have been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. They are believed to be capable of treating and possibly preventing pain from arthritis, gout and similar conditions; and decreasing symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage.
Tests at Michigan State University have indicated that cherry anthocyanins can be at least 10 times more active than aspirin and have comparable activity to ibuprofen without the adverse side effects of these commercial analgesics.
Cherries have been shown to contain compounds reported to have anti-tumour effects: ellagic acid, a phenolic compound, and perillyl alcohol, a monoterpene with powerful antioxidant activity.
Cherries contain beta-sitosterol, a plant sterol which at high levels is believed to be linked to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Cherries have been shown to contain melatonin, known for its potential as a natural sleep enhancer. Melatonin also has high antioxidant activity.
Recent laboratory research at Michigan State University has shown that cherry anthocyanins can increase insulin production in pancreatic cells by up to 100%, indicating that cherries could be effective in diabetic treatment.