Q

Antioxidants

Are cherries a good source of antioxidants?

A Answers (1)

  • A , Naturopathic Medicine, answered
    Cherries, like berries, are rich sources of flavonoids, specifically anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins, the molecules that give this fruit its deep red-blue color. In general, the darker the cherry, whether sweet or sour, the better it is for you because it contains a higher concentration of flavonoids. These flavonoids exert a number of beneficial effects. For example, researchers at Michigan State University investigated the ability of a number of fruits, including cherries, to act as antioxidants and to inhibit cyclo-oxygenase, an enzyme produced in the body in two forms, called COX-1 and COX-2, each of which has different purposes. COX-1 is made by many different cells to create prostaglandins, hormone-like molecules that are used to send basic "housekeeping" messages to nearby cells, while COX-2 is built only by special cells in response to inflammatory processes and is used to signal pain and inflammation. Most non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, work by blocking both cyclo-oxygenase enzymes, so no pain messages are sent. Newer drugs such as Celebrex work by specifically blocking COX-2, but while these drugs have been linked to serious side effects, cherries have not.

    Researchers at Michigan State University found that anthocyanidins from cherries are able to block both COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. In fact, of all the fruits the investigators tested, cherries had the highest amounts of key anthocyanidins - 26.5 mg in 100 g (roughly 20 cherries). The COX-inhibitory activities of cherries' anthocyanidins were found to be comparable to those of ibuprofen and naproxen. The same group of researchers also discovered that these anthocyanidins possess antioxidant activity superior to vitamin E at equal levels. In addition to their anthocyanidins, Montmorency tart cherries have been found to contain significant quantities of melatonin, a hormone produced in the pineal gland at the base of the brain that influences the sleep process and is also a very powerful antioxidant. While some other foods, such as bananas, also contain melatonin, the amount is too low to be effective, but, according to studies conducted at the University of Texas, Montmorency cherries contain 0.1 to 0.3 mg of melatonin per serving. At this dosage, melatonin has been shown to be an effective sleep inducer.

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This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
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