LANSING, Mich.—Tart cherries may help reduce chronic inflammation, according to new research from Oregon Health & Science University presented last week at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference (ACSM) in San Francisco. In fact, the researchers suggest tart cherries have the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food."
In a study of 20 women, ages 40 to 70 with inflammatory osteoarthritis, the researchers found that drinking tart cherry juice twice daily for three weeks led to significant reductions in important inflammation markers—especially for women who had the highest inflammation levels at the start of the study.
“With millions of Americans looking for ways to naturally manage pain, it’s promising that tart cherries can help, without the possible side effects often associated with arthritis medications," said Kerry Kuehl, MD, DrPH, MS, Oregon Health & Science University, principal study investigator. “I’m intrigued by the potential for a real food to offer such a powerful anti-inflammatory benefit—especially for active adults."
Often characterized as “wear and tear" arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Athletes are often at a greater risk for developing the condition, given their excessive joint use that can cause a breakdown in cartilage and lead to pain and injury, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
The inflammation benefits could be particularly important for athletes, according to Kuehl’s previous research. In a past study he found that people who drank tart cherry juice while training for a long distance run reported significantly less pain after exercise than those who didn’t.