Sweet Bing Cherries Can Help Lower Inflammation Risk
Chronic inflammation is linked to many disease states, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. Normally, inflammation is part of a healthy immune response intended to fight an invading force, such as an infection. However, inflammation that occurs when the immune system is “turned on” and never shut off triggers processes within the body that can lead to disease.
Most people don’t know they are inflamed. C-reactive protein is one known biomarker for inflammation that is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and many other conditions, but it isn’t a routine blood test your doctor will suggest. CRP is a substance produced by the liver. Genetics, a sedentary lifestyle, too much stress, obesity and exposure to environmental toxins such as secondhand smoke can elevate CRP levels.
Researchers from the University of California, Davis studied 18 men and women between the ages of 41 and 61 who were healthy but had elevated levels of C-reactive protein. The normal range for CRP is less than 1 milligram per liter; the participants in the study had a range of 1 to 14 milligrams per liter.
The participants were asked to consume 45 Bing cherries each day for 63 days. At the end of the study, changes for 89 commonly known biomarkers for inflammation, immune status, cardiovascular disease, blood clotting, and liver and kidney function were assessed. Those consuming the cherries displayed lower levels of circulating CRP as well as 8 other biomarkers.
Bing cherries are grown in the Pacific Northwest and are available in the US from mid-June to mid-August. One cup provides 90 calories and 3 grams of fiber plus 15% of the daily value for vitamin C. Despite their sweet taste, in a previous study by the same researchers, they were not associated with a rise in blood sugar or insulin levels (good to know for diabetics).
Good quality Bing cherries will be large, firm and have a deep-red coloring. Avoid those that are soft, having wrinkled skin, are leaking and sticky, or have visible signs of decay.
Darshan S. Kelley, Yuriko Adkins, Aurosis Reddy, Leslie R. Woodhouse, Bruce E. Mackey and Kent L. Erickson. Sweet Bing Cherries Lower Circulating Concentrations of Markers for Chronic Inflammatory Diseases in Healthy Humans. First published January 23, 2013, doi: 10.3945/jn.112.171371J. Nutr. March 1, 2013vol. 143 no. 3 340-344
Darshan S. Kelley, Reuven Rasooly, Robert A. Jacob, Adel A. Kader, and Bruce E. Mackey. Consumption of Bing Sweet CherriesLowers Circulating Concentrations of Inflammation Markers in Healthy Men and Women. J. Nutr. April 2006 vol. 136 no. 4 981-986