Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Jerry Hickey. Ph
Cherries are proving to be a very healthy food choice. One of them stands up and above all the other cherries when it comes to proven health benefits. It’s the Montmorency tart cherry.
It’s loaded with anthocyanins, a very powerful group of antioxidants. They’re sort of reddish-pigmented antioxidants found in produce that really help shield your blood vessels and they’re really good for your brain and eyes. They just have numerous benefits throughout the body.
Tart cherries have been studied for physical performance. At Texas A&M, they’ve published a number of studies in health journals and medical journals. They used the Montmorency tart cherry, the CherryPUREⓇ, which is the trademark name of it. When they give it to their NCAA-level athletes, they perform better. They perform at a higher level for a longer time and it improves their endurance, physicality, physical performance and stamina.
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That has a lot to do with tart cherry being a powerful vasoactive substance. A vasoactive substance means that it helps improve blood flow. So if you can increase the flow of blood to your muscles when you’re exercising or playing a sport, that rinses the acids out of your muscles that are building up and it provides the muscle with more oxygen, nutrition and fuel and you can perform better. It does this by improving the function of a gas in your blood vessels called nitric oxide that pops your blood vessels open. By the same token, by improving circulation, that also helps your heart pump to your brain and legs, so that helps restore high blood pressure to a more normal level safely.
Beyond its effects on circulation to the muscles during exercise and physical performance or improving blood flow and blood pressure, it also supports healthy blood flow to the brain, which is good because blood flow to the brain declines in certain groups. For instance, older people have decreased blood flow to the brain and it’s a fairly common finding in diabetics also. So giving these people tart cherry helps increase circulation to the brain that has fallen due to age or disease states.
For more information on additional benefits of tart cherry, listen to the full podcast episode.
Tart cherry and Sleep Benefits
The other thing that they’re finding with tart cherry in a number of studies is that it improves sleep, even in insomniacs, and it does it safely. It doesn’t make you sleepy. It’s something you can take in the daytime for mental health, brain health and for physicality and it doesn’t make you sleepy. But at night, you sleep better, so that’s a very important finding.
Insomnia, of course, is trouble sleeping. Defined, insomnia is having trouble sleeping on average more than three nights per week and it affects an estimated up to 34% of people over the age of 65. Longlasting insomnia is connected to poor health outcomes, such as chronic pain, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and a decline of cognitive function, even dementia among the elderly. So, a safe way to improve sleep is very important and giving them sleeping pills is rather dangerous. It’s very easy to overdose on a sleeping pill.
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A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food done by the Sleep and Neurophysiology Research Laboratory Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center looked at a tart cherry juice blend. They wanted to see if it improved insomnia in healthy people. It’s a pilot study that’s a randomized, double-blind, crossover design, which means everybody in the study either got the cherry at one point or they all got the placebo at one point. They did find a difference. They found that on the tart cherry, there was a statistically significantly improved pre- to post-treatment on all sleep variables. Sleep variables could be how easy is it to fall asleep, how long do you sleep, how restful and how deep was the sleep. They’re all variables of sleep.
Listen to the full podcast episode for more studies about how tart cherry can impact sleep.
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