The consumption of a Jerte Valley cherry product in humans enhances mood, and increases 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid but reduces cortisol levels in urine

Exp Gerontol. 2012 Aug;47(8):573-80. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2012.05.003. Epub 2012 May 11.


Purpose: Jerte Valley cherries contain high levels of tryptophan, serotonin, and melatonin. These molecules have been shown to be involved in mood regulation. It has been suggested that a complex inter-relationship between brain serotonin, circulating levels of cortisol (the major stress hormone), and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis exists in the regulation of stress responses, where cortisol and serotonin act as markers of mood disturbances. Moreover there is growing evidence that altered HPA activity is associated with various age-related pathologies. The present study evaluated the effect of the ingestion of a Jerte Valley cherry-based product, compared to a placebo product, on urine cortisol and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) levels, and on mood in young, middle-aged, and elderly participants.

Methods: Cortisol and 5-HIAA acid levels were measured by commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits. The mood state profile was analysed using a visual analogue scale and the state-trait anxiety inventory.

Results: Our findings showed that the ingestion of the Jerte Valley cherry product decreased urinary cortisol and increased urinary 5-HIAA levels in all the experimental groups. Moreover, the cherry product was able to lessen anxiety status in the middle-aged and elderly participants, and enhanced subjective mood parameters, particularly family relationships in young participants, and frame of mind and fitness in both middle-aged and elderly subjects.

Conclusions: The consumption of the Jerte Valley cherry product may protect against stress and act as a mood enhancer by increasing serotonin availability to the organism, particularly with advancing age.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology
  • Anxiety / diet therapy
  • Anxiety / urine
  • Beverages*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / urine*
  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid / urine*
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prunus*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychometrics
  • Young Adult


  • Hydroxyindoleacetic Acid
  • Hydrocortisone