The hard little pits from cherries give a bit more work to eat than most other fruits. But research suggests that this fruit, which contains a compound called perillyl alcohol, is worth the bother. |
According to Michael Gould, PhD, professor of oncology and medical physics at the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison, “perillyl alcohol is about the best thing we’ve ever seen for curing mammary cancer in laboratory animals” In fact, it shows so much promise that it’s being tried in cancer patients at the University of Wisconsin.
Perillyl alcohol belongs to a group of compounds called monoterpenes. Limonene, which is found in the peel of citrus fruits, also belongs to this family. These compounds have been shown in studies to block the formation of a variety of cancers, including those of the breasts, lungs, stomach, liver, and skin. Expectations from perillyl alcohol are high, mainly because it is 5 to 10 times more potent than limonene, which itself has been proven to be very effective.
It’s not yet known how much perillyl alcohol there is in cherries, but even a small amount of the compound probably has some beneficial effects. So cherries, when eaten as part of a well-rounded diet, can play a small but important role in helping the body ward off cancer.
Vitamin C + In addition to exotic new compounds, cherries also contain a variety of antioxidants. Researchers have found that 1 cup of sweet cherries has more than twice as many antioxidants as green tea.
Additionally, a half-cup of sour cherries has 5 mg vitamin C, about 8% of the Daily Value (DV) for this vitamin. Sour cherries also provide vitamins A and E, and more than in sweet cherries.
The vitamin E in cherries is of particular interest, since one study of postmenopausal women found that those who consumed the most vitamin E had the least risk of heart disease. And there was an interesting twist. The women who got their vitamin E naturally- solely from food -had less risk than women who were taking vitamin E supplements.
The problem with vitamin E is that it is difficult to get the DV of 30 IU from food alone. In facts, the only foods with a lot of vitamin E are high-fat cooking oil and nuts, but you can’t eat a lot of them. Cherries are one of the better food sources for vitamin E.
Finally, cherries contain a compound called quercitin.Like vitamin C and other antioxidants quercitin helps to prevent damage caused by free radicals.
Relief from gout and other forms of arthritis Folklore is full of stories about people who relieved the agonizing pain of gout by eating cherries or drinking cherry juice daily. Although the Arthritis Foundation still says that there’s no absolute evidence to suggest that cherries really can ease the ache of this form of arthritis or any other, many gout sufferers swear by them.
The results of several studies showed that natural compounds in cherries may reduce the painful inflammation from arthritis.The first study conducted at the University of California, Davis, instructed 10 healthy women to eat 45 fresh Bing cherries one day for breakfast. The women were asked not to eat other fruits or vegetables or to drink tea or red wine for the two days before the cherry breakfast, because the researchers were concerned that these other high-oxidant foods would interfere with the results. The researchers measured the women’s plasma urate, a marker for gout, before and after the cherry breakfast. The researchers found that the women’s urate levels decreased significantly after eating cherries, which suggest that cherries might play an important role in fighting gout.
A survey by Prevention magazine found that 67% of readers who tried cherries for gout had good results. Steve Schumacher, a kinesiologist in Louisville, Kentucky, enthousiastically recommends them. He advises people with gout to quit eating red meats and organ meats and also to drink two to three glasses of cherry juice daily. He recommends using pure black-cherry juice diluted with an equal amount of water. “All who have followed this diet faithfully have all gotten results, some within 48 to 72 hours, and some within a week, depending on the severity,” Schumacher says.
Some tips when buying cherries Fresh cherries are at their best during the summer months. When buying cherries, check the stems, they should be green with fresh cherries. Cherries are highly perishable, even when properly stored in the fridge. So plan to buy only what you’re going to eat right away. It’s best not to wash them, but store them dry. it’s important, however, to wash them thoroughly. Cherries arre often coated with a mixture of insecticides, anti fungal oils, and moisture seals that producers use to keep them fresh. When you’re tired of munching cherries, you may want to try some juice. Simply wash, stem, pit, and crush the sherries. Heat them in a saucepan, then press the mixture through a strainer. Refrigerate several hours, then pour off the clear juice and add sugar to taste.
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antioxidants, arthritis, cancer prevention, gout, perillyl alcohol, vitamin C,