Cherries May Help Reduce Metabolic Syndrome and Heart Disease Risk Factors

New Study Finds Cherry-Enriched Diets Lowered Blood Cholesterol, Insulin

Levels and Other Factors Linked to this 'Silent Epidemic'

Apr 30, 2007, 01:00 ET from Cherry Marketing Institute

    WASHINGTON, April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Increasing intake of
 antioxidant-rich cherries may help lower the risk of metabolic syndrome and
 cardiovascular disease, suggests a new study(1) presented today at the
 Experimental Biology annual meeting.
     Researchers say the animal study is encouraging and will lead to
 further clinical studies in humans.
     "Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of traits that can greatly increase
 your risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes, so it's a serious
 condition that significantly affects public health," said study co-author
 Dr. Steven F. Bolling, a cardiac surgeon at the University of Michigan
 Cardiovascular Center who also heads the U-M Cardioprotection Research
 Laboratory, where the study was performed. "Lifestyle changes have been
 shown to lower the odds of developing metabolic syndrome, and there is
 tremendous interest in studying the impact of particular foods that are
 rich in antioxidants, such as cherries."
     Metabolic syndrome (also called insulin resistance syndrome) has become
 increasingly common in the United States, especially among adults in their
     The American Heart Association estimates that 50 million American
 adults have it, and many of them don't even know it. That's why metabolic
 syndrome is frequently called a "silent epidemic."
     The study, presented by University of Michigan researchers, used cherry
 powder derived from tart cherries -- the variety frequently sold as dried,
 frozen or juice. These cherries contain a compound known as anthocyanins,
 which provide the deep rich red color and have been shown to have
 anti-inflammatory properties and other health benefits.
     In the new study, whole tart cherry powder was fed to two groups of
 rats as either 1 percent or 10 percent of their diet for 90 days. Other
 rats received diets with no cherry powder, but with an equal amount of
 carbohydrates and calories to those that received cherry powder.
     Results showed that the cherry-enriched diets significantly lowered
 total cholesterol levels, triglycerides, insulin and fasting glucose levels
 after 90 days. All of these measures are factors that are linked to
 metabolic syndrome. The study also showed the cherry-fed groups had lower
 levels of a plasma marker of oxidative damage and increased blood
 antioxidant capacity -- not surprising since cherries are one of the
 richest sources of antioxidants.
     Additionally, the cherry-enriched diets reduced "fatty liver" or the
 accumulation of triglycerides and cholesterol in the liver.
     The amount of cherries used in the study is estimated to be about 1 1/4
 to 1 1/2 cups of whole frozen cherries or a little more than 1/2 cup of
 dried cherries.
     People with metabolic syndrome -- characterized by abdominal obesity
 (or belly fat), high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol levels, high blood
 pressure and high blood sugar levels -- are at greater risk for
 cardiovascular disease, which remains the nation's top killer.
     Previous studies have shown that the compounds in cherries may offer
 protection against heart disease due to enhancements in blood vessel
 health. Other studies suggest that cherries have anti-inflammatory benefits
 that may help ease the pain of arthritis and gout.
     The new study on cherries and metabolic syndrome has been submitted for
 publication. The study was funded by the Cherry Marketing Institute, which
 provided an unrestricted grant to the University of Michigan to conduct the
 research and was not directly involved in the design, conduct or analysis
 of the project.
     (1) Cherry-enriched diets reduce metabolic syndrome and oxidative
 stress in lean Dahl-SS rats. Experimental Biology 2007 225.8, Seymour EM,
 Singer AAM, Bennink MR, Bolling SF. Presented in minisymposium 225, Dietary
 Bioactive Compounds: Chronic Disease Risk Reduction.

SOURCE Cherry Marketing Institute