Tart Cherry Extract
Tart cherry supplements have recently become popular nutritional supplements for their purported ability to reduce pain and inflammation. Here’s everything you need to know about these supplements.
What is Tart Cherry?
Tart cherries, as the name suggests, are a specific type of cherry characterized by their tart flavor. Studies have shown that tart cherries contain higher levels of anthocyanins than sweet cherries – although sweet cherries are also packed with nutrients.
Tart cherry is a special type of cherry purported to contain high levels of anti-inflammatory compounds called anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins are the compounds that give cherries their unique red color. In certain scientific studies, anthocyanins have been shown to mediate inflammation throughout the body. Some studies have even shown that cherries can deliver anti-inflammatory benefits similar to pharmaceuticals like ibuprofen and naproxen.
Tart cherry is also purported to contain more than just anti-inflammatory compounds. The cherries also contain antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals in your bloodstream and organs. These antioxidants can play a vital role in reducing your risk of disease.
Today, you can buy tart cherries raw. However, you’re more likely going to find tart cherries in the form of nutritional supplements, where it’s delivered in the form of an encapsulated extract.
Many supplements, for example, contain a 4:1 extract of tart cherry. 1000mg of 4:1 extract seems to be a popular dosage. However, some supplements also deliver a 10:1 extract.
Biologically speaking, tart cherry is also known as Prunus cerasus.
How Does Tart Cherry Work?
Tart cherry is thought to work because it contains a type of flavonoids called anthocyanins.
These are the same chemical compounds found in many types of berries. They give berries their unique color. Only recently scientists have found that they do more than just give fruits their unique color: they also have been linked with major health benefits.
One of the things that makes tart cherries particularly powerful is their anthocyanins combined with supporting chemical compounds.
In one report, tart cherries were ranked 14th among the top 50 foods in terms of highest antioxidant content. That’s higher than other popular sources of antioxidants – like red wine and dark chocolate.
That’s a real scientific ranking that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, by the way: that’s not just some blog ranking the top 50 foods that they think have the highest antioxidants.
As a result of its high antioxidant content, tart cherry has been linked to a number of health benefits.
Tart Cherry Benefits
Inflammation is a key factor behind many common types of diseases. One of the major causes of obesity is inflammation. Unfortunately, it’s also a consequence of inflammation. When left unchecked, inflammation can cause disease to run rampant throughout your body.
In one study, researchers took a group of obese or overweight human adults who drank 8 ounces of tart cherry juice daily for 4 weeks. Those adults exhibited significantly lower inflammation when measured by their erythrocyte sedimentation rate, their tumor necrosis factor levels, and their monocyte chemotactic protein – all of which are key indicators of inflammation.
Reduce your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is characterized by high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in your bloodstream.
Typically, doctors treat high cholesterol using pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, those drugs are often associated with dangerous side effects. Tart cherries have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol in a handful of studies.
In 2011, scientists reported a 26% decrease in cholesterol in mice who took tart cherry powder. Those mice also experienced a 65% reduction in early death rates (which was believed to be linked to better cardiovascular health).
In a follow up study on humans later in 2011, researchers investigated how tart cherry juice affected serum triglycerides. Those researchers reported that drinking 8 ounces of tart cherry juice per day lowered triglyceride levels by 17% on average.
Reduce your Risk of Cancer
There’s some evidence that berry anthocyanins – like the ones found in high levels of tart cherries – can switch off the genes involved in the multiple pathways of cancer.
Those are the same genes responsible for cell proliferation, inflammation, and angiogenesis (which is the growth of new blood vessels that feed the tumor’s growth).
Anthocyanins not only switched off genes: they also triggered apoptosis, which is the programmed cell death that causes pre-cancerous cells to self-destruct.
The anti-cancer properties of tart cherries and anthocyanins have only been demonstrated on a small scale. Researchers have published early evidence supporting these anti-cancer properties in a variety of anthocyanins.
Reduce your Risk of Neurodegenerative Diseases
Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have been linked to oxidative stress in nerve cells. Several studies have shown that polyphenols – like the ones found in high levels in tart cherry supplements – can play a role in reducing your risk for those diseases.
One study involving anthocyanins in particular showed that these polyphenolic compounds were particularly powerful at defending neurons against oxidative stress. You can read more about that study here.
How to Buy Tart Cherries
There are a number of easy ways to add tart cherries to your daily lifestyle.
Typically, the two most popular ways are to:
— Drink Tart Cherry Juice
— Take a Tart Cherry Extract Supplement
Tart cherry juice can be found at health food stores and certain grocery stores.
The extract supplements, on the other hand, can be found at all sorts of online and offline retailers, including Amazon.
This tart cherry supplement sold by AmerMed on Amazon, for example, is priced at $12.99 for a package containing 120 capsules at 10:1 extract. The manufacturer recommends taking 2 to 4 capsules per day with a glass of water.
You can also buy tart cherry juice from Amazon. Dynamic Health’s 100% Pure Organic Certified Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate is the number one best seller in fruit juice beverages on Amazon. It comes in a 16 ounce container for $9.67.
That juice is not meant to be consumed straight. Instead, you mix one serving (2 tbsp or 30mL) of the concentrate with water or the beverage of your choice. Each serving contains the equivalent of 80 cherries.
Ultimately, tart cherry is one of the world’s best sources of anthocyanins, which are powerful flavonoids that have demonstrated growing evidence at their ability to fight diseases. Whether you take it as a juice concentrate or as an extract, there’s strong evidence that tart cherry supplements have enormous health benefits.