Tart Cherries and health: Current knowledge and need for a better understanding of the fate of phytochemicals in the human gastrointestinal tract

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(4):626-638. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2017.1384918. Epub 2017 Oct 30.


Tart cherries are increasingly popular due to purported health benefits. This Prunus cesarus species is cultivated worldwide, and its market has increased significantly in the last two decades due to improvements in agricultural practices and food processing technology. Tart cherries are rich in polyphenols, with a very specific profile combining anthocyanins and flavonols (berries-like) and chlorogenic acid (coffee-like). Tart cherries have been suggested to exert several potentially beneficial health effects including: lowering blood pressure, modulating blood glucose, enhancing cognitive function, protecting against oxidative stress and reducing inflammation. Studies focusing on tart cherry consumption have demonstrated particular benefits in recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage and diabetes associated parameters. However, the bioconversion of tart cherry polyphenols by resident colonic microbiota has never been considered, considerably reducing the impact of in vitro studies that have relied on fruit polyphenol extracts. In vitro and in vivo gut microbiota and metabolome studies are necessary to reinforce health claims linked to tart cherries consumption.

Keywords: Gut microbiota; Metabolome; Phytochemicals; Polyphenols; Tart cherries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Beverages
  • Chlorogenic Acid / analysis
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Flavonoids / analysis
  • Food Handling / methods
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacokinetics*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Polyphenols / metabolism
  • Polyphenols / pharmacokinetics
  • Prunus avium / chemistry*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Flavonoids
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polyphenols
  • Chlorogenic Acid