Cherries and cherry juice are our allies against obesity, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and inflammation. This emerges from a very recent scientific research that appeared in Nutrients magazine thanks to the work of an American team from Texas A&M University (Arbizu et al, Nutrients, 2023).
Obesity and its consequences
Obesity is a condition that is causing more and more cases to be recorded. It is estimated that 31% of the population in the United States is obese. The problem is that obesity brings with it an increase in inflammation and free radicals, which in turn, as a consequence, increase the risk of developing hypertension, hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia and hence cardiovascular disease and tumors. An active lifestyle and a healthy, balanced diet, which includes legumes, whole grains, fruit and vegetables, can do much to counteract obesity. In particular, foods rich in polyphenols are of considerable importance, as they are able to effectively combat obesity and its risks. Among all foods, cherries are a very interesting choice, both because they are very tasty and therefore are eaten willingly, and because they are a precious source of polyphenols with an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action, such as phenolic acids and anthocyanins, which in addition give the beautiful dark red color to these fruits. Previous studies performed in the laboratory on a population of animals had already been able to show that the intake of cherries is able to reduce high blood sugar, but also triglycerides and bad LDL cholesterol in the case of a high-fat diet. Even studies carried out on humans had shown healthy properties not only of cherries but also of their juice, capable, two hours after ingestion, of reducing blood pressure with benefits on the heart. The study we are talking about today investigated the cardioprotective action of cherries and their juice, also testing it in the case of existing obesity.
The cardioprotective properties of cherry juice, the study
The scientists recruited 40 people, all adults and obese. Half of the volunteers were asked to drink 200 ml of cherry juice twice a day for one month. The other half were offered a placebo instead. Before and after the experiment, the volunteers underwent medical examinations and blood tests. What emerged was that, after a month, those who had taken the cherry juice did not show weight gain while this was observed in the placebo group. Not only that, the noteworthy fact was that, in the group that had taken the cherry juice, both the systolic and diastolic blood pressures showed a reduction in their values. This effect was greater in the case of higher body mass index, the parameter by which obesity is calculated. High body mass indexes are generally associated with high blood pressure, so cherry juice showed a higher effect in cases where there was a greater need for action. In addition to what has just been stated, cherry juice also made it possible to reduce circulating pro-inflammatory substances. Instead, no effects were recorded with regard to blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides, but this fact was expected as the study participants had values within the normal range. Further studies will have to follow to verify the action of cherries in case of altered values of cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar.
Cherries and, when it is not in season, cherry juice are therefore valid allies in the fight against obesity and its consequences. In any case, as far as juice is concerned, it is important to choose it without added sugar and you should never overdo it, always trying to integrate it into a healthy, varied and fiber-rich diet. In fact, even fibers, which are found in the whole fruit, help to counteract overweight and alterations in cholesterol and blood sugar.