Consuming just one and a half cups of tart cherries daily enhances the antioxidant activity in the body, according to new research.
The study, conducted by scientists from the University of Michigan and reported at the 2009 Experimental Biology meeting in New Orleans, included twelve healthy adults, aged 18 to 25 years, who were randomly assigned to eat either one and a half cups or three cups of frozen tart cherries.
The researchers found increased levels of five different anthocyanins, the natural antioxidants which give cherries their red color, for up to 12 hours after consumption.
"This study documents for the first time that the antioxidants in tart cherries do make it into the human bloodstream and is coupled with increased antioxidant activity that could have a positive impact," says Dr. Sara L. Warber, co-director of University of Michigan Integrative Medicine and principal investigator of the study.
"[What’s] really great is that a reasonable amount of cherries could potentially deliver benefits, like reducing risk factors for heart disease and inflammation," she adds.
Previous studies have linked cherries and cherry compounds to lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides levels.
Other benefits of cherries include a 14 percent lower body weight and less belly fat, the type linked to increased heart disease risk and type 2 diabetes, according to the UM researchers.