Drinking just one ounce, or two tablespoons, of tart concentrated cherry juice every day can help alleviate arthritis pain. That’s because tart cherries, specifically Montmorency tart cherries, contain anthocyanins and two important antioxidants: isoqueritrin and queritrin.
Anthocyanins create cherries’ dark red pigment. Arthritis inflammation and pain is caused by the hormone prostaglandin; it is directly related to two enzymes that cause tissue inflammation and the resulting pain. Anthocyanins inhibit those two enzymes, decreasing inflammation and joint pain. Remarkably, the pain-inhibiting strength is comparable to ibuprofen and naproxen. And laboratory tests at Michigan State University find that tart cherry compounds are at least 10 times more effective than aspirin in reducing inflammation–without any of aspirin’s side effects.
Queritrin and isoqueritrin are flavonoids. Flavonoids function as antioxidants, meaning that they destroy free radicals within the body to generally help prevent cancer. Queritrin and isoqueritrin help eliminate the byproducts of stress, and they help slow down the aging process in general. Queritrin also possesses anti-inflammatory effects similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Queritrin can also inhibit the body’s production of inflammation-causing leukotrienes and histamine.
Anthocyanins possess additional beneficial properties. They are powerful antioxidants, meaning they destroy free radicals within the body to generally help prevent cancer. Anthocyanins are even more powerful than vitamin E. Tart cherries boast a whopping 26.5 grams of anthocyanins–the highest of all fruits. Anthocyanins also help prevent plaque buildup in artery walls, which in turn helps prevent heart disease; they’re more potent in this regard than vitamins C and E. Also, tart cherries are a low-glycemic food, so they’re diabetic-friendly.