Fans of cherries, rejoice! A Boston University study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism in September 2012 found patients who ate cherries over a two-day period had a 35% lower risk of gout attacks compared to those who did not.
What is Gout?
Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when uric acid levels build up in the blood. When the uric acid crystals build up around joints, the joints swell up, becoming inflamed and painful. While the exact cause of gout is unknown, the treatment and management of it relates mostly to reducing the uric acid levels in the blood. Typical treatment involves medication and limiting the amount of high-purine foods in the diet, as these foods can increase uric acid in the blood.
Eating Cherries Reduced Gout Attacks
In this specific study, 10 to 12 cherries counted as one serving. Among study participants, the benefit of eating cherries was seen for those who ate up to three servings over the two-day period. The effect was even more dramatic when cherry consumption was combined with medication: up to 75% lower risk of gout attacks.
While more studies are needed to confirm the exact mechanism behind this effect, cherries are known to be high in antioxidants such as anthocyanins, which can benefit any type of inflammatory conditions within the body. The Boston University researchers pointed out that eating cherries has a similar effect as taking ibuprofen on a daily basis.
The Bottom Line
As research into so-called superfoods continues, scientists are continuing to identify additional nutrients with therapeutic potential beyond the obvious vitamins and minerals we see on a Nutrition Facts panel. The take-away message: Continue to incorporate a wide variety of colorful plant-based foods into your diet.