Increased oxidative stress contributes to development and progression of several human chronic inflammatory diseases. Cherries are a rich source of polyphenols and vitamin C which have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Our aim is to summarize results from human studies regarding health benefits of both sweet and tart cherries, including products made from them (juice, powder, concentrate, capsules); all referred to as cherries here. We found 29 (tart 20, sweet 7, unspecified 2) published human studies which examined health benefits of consuming cherries. Most of these studies were less than 2 weeks of duration (range 5 h to 3 months) and served the equivalent of 45 to 270 cherries/day (anthocyanins 55-720 mg/day) in single or split doses. Two-thirds of these studies were randomized and placebo controlled. Consumption of cherries decreased markers for oxidative stress in 8/10 studies; inflammation in 11/16; exercise-induced muscle soreness and loss of strength in 8/9; blood pressure in 5/7; arthritis in 5/5, and improved sleep in 4/4. Cherries also decreased hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C), Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and triglycerides/high-density lipoprotein (TG/HDL) in diabetic women, and VLDL and TG/HDL in obese participants. These results suggest that consumption of sweet or tart cherries can promote health by preventing or decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation.
Keywords: anthocyanins; cherries; chronic diseases; inflammation; oxidative stress; polyphenols.