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Cherries, the new superfruit

health and fitness Updated: Mar 29, 2012 02:06 IST

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Move over your pomegranates fixation. Overlooked for long, luscious and juicy cherries could be the next superfruit. Not only are cherries high in antioxidants, many studies suggest the fruit could also be used to provide relief from pain and inflammation, serve as a sleep aid and become useful in sports nutrition.

A report by market research group Euromonitor published last week, vaunts the health benefits of cherries and suggests it could be the next big flavour in functional foods that come with health claims.

According to ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), which measures the antioxidants in foods, for instance, fresh tart cherries contain more free radical-busting agents than strawberries. Fresh cherries have also been shown to help the body excrete excess uric acid which causes gout, while their phytochemicals may help combat inflammation responsible for arthritic pain, the report points out.

Tart cherries have also been found to contain high levels of melatonin — a naturally occurring compound that helps regulate sleep cycles. In a 2011 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, researchers concluded that the ingestion of tart cherry concentrate improved sleep duration and quality in healthy men and women.

The fruit’s high antioxidant content also helps reduce muscle damage caused by intense strength exercise, helps speed up post-exercise recovery and improves performance.

Cherry juice could prove to become a market rival for other red ‘superfruit’ juices.

While pomegranate juice helps reduce the build-up of cholesterol in arteries, and cranberry juice helps with urinary tract infections, studies have pointed out that cherries offer a broader range of health benefits.