Tart cherries might not be one of the first foods that come to mind when you think “heart healthy,” but perhaps they should be. New research from the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center shows that compounds in cherries may protect against the kind of inflammation that’s been associated with both heart disease and diabetes.

Researchers fed two groups of rats bred to be particularly susceptible to heart disease the equivalent of an unhealthy human diet (aptly abbreviated SAD for Standard American Diet). Both groups got the same number of calories, but the diet of one group included dried extract of tart cherries. And the results were impressive. Markers of inflammation – TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor) and IL-6 (Interluken 6) – went down significantly in the group fed the cherry extract.

This is an important finding, because inflammation is a factor in every major degenerative disease, including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. In addition, the cherry-fed rats had significantly lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. And they were far less likely to build up fat around the middle. (Abdominal fat – in both rats and people – is linked to diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, a kind of pre-diabetes.)

The researchers believe that the secret ingredient in cherries may be anthocyanins, the pigment responsible for making cherries dark. The high levels of antioxidants in the fruit may also play a role.

How much would a human have to eat to get the same potential benefit? It’s hard to make a perfect extrapolation to a 150-pound human from a rat that weighs a few ounces – but an educated guess is that it would take only about a cup and a half of cherries (fresh or frozen).

[Ed. Note: Dr. Jonny Bowden – a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition, and health – can point you toward delicious and natural foods that will help you feel better and live longer. Check out his book, The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth,
for additional strategies to keep yourself in tip-top shape.

For more information, go to www.jonnybowden.com. ]