Do you have high cholesterol? High blood sugar? Gout? Weight gain around the waist? Inflammation? Try cherries!

Though this may seem hard to believe, if research now spanning several decades is accurate, natural cherries or cherry extract have all these benefits and more.

Gout sufferers who are tuned in to natural remedies have known for decades that drinking a bottle (or two) of cherry juice can put a stop even to a severe gout attack. The earliest published study on this that I was able to find is dated 1950 (Cherry diet control for gout and arthritis, Tex Rep Biol Med).

Recent studies show that compounds in cherries lower both uric acid (the direct cause of gout) and inflammatory markers in blood. In particular cherry consumption was shown to lower C-reactive protein (CRP), an indicator of inflammation in blood that is now considered a better predictor of cardiovascular disease than cholesterol levels (Kelley, J Nutr 2006).

Of even greater interest are new studies showing that anthocyanins found in all cherries but in greatest concentration in tart cherries help reverse so-called Metabolic Syndrome (see This is a pre-diabetic condition characterized by insulin resistance, increased weight around the waistline, and high cholesterol. Not only is Metabolic Syndrome a precursor to full blown diabetes, it is also associated with increased risk of heart disease and other diseases of aging.

Probably eating any type of cherries or drinking cherry juice helps to some degree, but it is the tart cherries that are the most effective and these are best taken as an extract that also concentrates the beneficial compounds contained in them. A supplement called Cherry Fruit Extract is now available from my office. As with everything else, taking a supplement can help, but overall dietary and other factors need to be considered to truly develop an effective path towards better health.

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