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Tart Cherry Juice: Nature's Ibuprofen?


First it was pomegranate juice, then acai berry juice, and now...tart red cherry juice is the newest super-food  darling.

Full of anti-oxidants that help block inflammation,  the juice from tart, red cherries is supposed to provide all kinds of health benefits, including relief from gout and arthritis, protection against heart disease and cancer, even help with sleeping for older adults.

A blogger in the New York Daily News recently called it Mother Nature's ibuprofen after she took it to help with aches and pains from running.

My husband, who suffers from heartburn, brought home a bottle the other night because he read it can help with stomach acidity.

So, is this hype or what?

The medical experts at University of California, Berkeley, addressed just that question in the May issue of their Wellness letter. Tart cherry juice, they wrote, is okay in moderation, but don't count on it to prevent or treat any medical condition.

They agree that cherries are rich in a type of antioxidant that gives all red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables their deep color, and this does have an anti-inflammatory effect. A few human studies have even shown that tart cherry juice can help older adults with insomnia sleep a little better.

But the experts warn that much of the research so far has been funded by the cherry industry, which has a vested interest in only publishing positive findings. More research is needed.

The good news is that you don't need to drink tart cherry juice (or eat a ton of cherries) to get these benefits. Other red/blue/purple foods, like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and pomegranates, have similar positive properties.

In the meantime, my husband is enjoying his daily glass of tart cherry juice (which actually tastes pretty sweet). Does it help with heartburn? Who knows. But we can report that it's delicious.

Photo credit: Niklas Bildhauer via flickr

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