LANSING, Mich., May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Arthritis is being called "the coming epidemic." Forty-six million -- or one in five American adults, have doctor-diagnosed arthritis -- and experts project that number to rise by nearly 40 percent by 2030(1). May is National Arthritis Month, a time to generate awareness of this growing condition and ways to manage associated symptoms. In fact, new research suggests that tart cherries -- one of today's hottest "Super Fruits" -- may help naturally reduce inflammation and ease arthritis pain.
While arthritis sufferers have sworn for years that cherry juice reduces pain, the anecdotal claims are now supported by scientific evidence. A new study by University of Michigan researchers revealed a cherry-enriched diet reduced inflammation markers in animals by up to 50 percent(2). Scientists believe it's the anthocyanins -- also responsible for cherries' vibrant red color -- that are responsible for this anti-inflammatory benefit. Other studies indicate that anthocyanins may be beneficial for a range of inflammatory-related conditions, including arthritis(3-5).
Studies also suggest antioxidant-rich foods, like cherries, may help reduce levels of nitric oxide, a compound associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis(6-8). Osteoarthritis currently affects 27 million Americans, with onset typically after 45 years of age(1).
"Cherries have a unique antioxidant profile that works similar to some types of pain medication," said Russel Reiter, Ph.D., nutrition researcher at the University of Texas Health Science Center, who has studied the benefits of tart cherries for many years. "This is an important link in examining the role diet can play in reducing inflammation and preventing and managing related diseases and conditions."
Consumers Prefer to Eat Red for Good Health
As America ages, so too will the prevalence of arthritis. Those afflicted are already looking to foods and beverages with health-promoting properties to optimize their health. In fact, a recent survey revealed most respondents would prefer to eat or drink foods with health promoting properties over medical treatment or dietary supplements. Reducing joint pain and inflammation were among the priority conditions(9). Also in the survey, 81% of consumers said they'd add more cherries to their daily diet if they knew the health benefits were virtually equal to dietary supplements.
"Arthritis pain can be very debilitating, limiting activity and overall quality of life," said Leslie Bonci, Director of Sports Nutrition in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. "As a registered dietitian, I like to recommend food as the first solution to good health. Cherries are great because they have these powerful anti-inflammatory properties and are easy and convenient to eat, from topping cereal or creating a smoothie."
Cherries are available year-round in dried, frozen and juice forms. One serving of cherries is equal to 1/2 cup dried cherries, 1 cup frozen cherries, 8 ounces cherry juice or 2 tablespoons cherry juice concentrate.
To learn more about the unique health benefits of cherries and to download a copy of "The Cherry Nutrition Report," visit http://www.choosecherries.com. The site also offers new cherry recipes, menu ideas, and more information on sourcing cherry products.
The Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI) is an organization funded by North American tart cherry growers and processors. CMI's mission is to increase the demand for tart cherries through promotion, market expansion, product development and research. For more information on the science supporting the unique health benefits of cherries and for cherry recipes and menu ideas, visit http://www.choosecherries.com.
SOURCE Cherry Marketing Institute