People with arthritis may benefit from eating plenty of tart (sour) cherries, according to US scientists.
Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University studied 20 women, aged 40 to 70, with inflammatory osteoarthritis.
Participants were asked to drink tart cherry juice twice a day for three weeks.
Analysis revealed that women who consumed the juice benefited from significant reductions in levels of inflammatory markers.
The improvements were particularly noticeable in those women whose levels of inflammation were highest at the start of the three-week period.
It is thought that tart cherries’ effects on inflammation may be due to their antioxidant compounds, called anthocyanins.
Presenting their findings at a conference of the American College of Sports Medicine in California, the study authors claimed that the fruits may have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food, and that they may therefore help to reduce chronic inflammation in people with arthritis and other forms of joint pain.
Principal study investigator Dr Kerry Kuehl said: “It’s promising that tart cherries can help, without the possible side-effects often associated with arthritis medications.
“I’m intrigued by the potential for a real food to offer such a powerful anti-inflammatory benefit – especially for active adults.”
A spokesman for Arthritis Research UK said previous small studies had also shown that tart cherries could reduce inflammation, but further published evidence was needed to back up such claims.
Arthritis Research UK