We all know about cherries that one leads to another ... they are so yummy! And from today we have one more reason to eat cherries. In fact, these red and juicy fruits are also anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and fight tumors through different mechanisms that have been deepened by a very recent review. In particular, a group of Portuguese and English researchers collected the results on the anticancer properties of cherries obtained by their research group and other universities. The work is available online and has been published in the Molecules journal (Fonseca et al, Molecules, May 2021).
Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants of cherries
First the researchers presented the composition of cherries. These fruits are mainly composed of water, more than 80%. They also provide carbohydrates and therefore energy, are rich in fiber, are free of cholesterol and low in calories. Cherries contain vitamins, especially vitamin C, and mineral salts, such as potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium. Very interesting is the presence, in cherries, of melatonin which is a neurohormone responsible, among other functions, for regulating the sleep-wake rhythm, thus helping against sleep disorders. Last but not least, cherries are also a source of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, quercetin, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
The antioxidants of cherries overcome the stomach barrier
Once the presence of antioxidants was ascertained, it was also essential to evaluate the bioavailability of these beneficial substances. In fact, digestion in the stomach can be a barrier to antioxidants. In the case of cherries, what has emerged is that digestion only partially hinders the absorption of antioxidants that, indeed, have been found to circulate in the blood unmodified following ingestion. Not only that, with regard to some antioxidants such as quercetin these are even increased following the digestive process.
How cherries fight tumors
A further step was to study the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antitumor action of cherries. What emerged is that the consumption of cherries reduces circulating free radicals and indicators of inflammation. And it is known that chronic inflammation and oxidative stress pave the way for cellular degeneration and therefore tumors, but also for a weakening of the immune system and cardiovascular problems. But the anticancer action of cherries does not stop there. In fact, thanks to recent studies it has also been extended to other processes. In particular, cherries seem to induce apoptosis, that is the programmed death, of diseased cells and hinder the proliferation of different types of cancer cells, even in aggressive forms. Not only that, it has been observed that cherry extracts were able to inhibit the invasion capacity of diseased cells and angiogenesis, which is the process by which new blood vessels are formed to bring nutrients to cells with degeneration. If this nourishment is lacking, the tumor cannot grow. Finally, cherries also enter another process, called metabolic reprogramming. Metabolic reprogramming allows cancer cells to expand as it makes them plastic and adaptable to the surrounding environment in order to capture more and more energy and grow. Well, cherry extracts have proven to be able to inhibit this reprogramming, thus hindering the energy supply to the diseased cells. The study of how natural substances can modify metabolic reprogramming represents one of the most innovative and recent research topics.
Therefore, cherries turned out to be a particularly healthy and beneficial fruit. Of course, they are not miraculous, in the sense that they cannot solve problems alone, but they can be part of a varied and balanced diet to put the body in the best conditions to counteract any threats, including cellular degeneration.