A tart cherry, also known as a sour cherry or by its scientific name of Prunus cerasus, provides vitamin C, potassium, beta carotene and other nutrients such as fiber. These cherries also pack powerful antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, that possess the ability to slow the aging process, repair cell damage and decrease disease risk within the body. Anthocyanins contain flavonoids that give tart cherries their rich, red color, which is responsible for providing the health and medical benefits. The medicinal uses of this cherry include alleviating discomfort associated with back, joint and muscle pain. Consuming products containing it have been linked to reducing symptoms of gout, arthritis, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
Some sufferers of gout and arthritis might prefer tart cherry as a medical alternative or supplement because its nutrients are regarded for fighting inflammation. According to some research, it reduces uric acid levels in the blood as well as reducing nitric acid levels. Both compounds are known to increase pain and inflammation related to gout and arthritis if levels are too high.
Medical uses of tart cherry also are related to diabetes and heart disease. Tart cherries and their juice have been known to lower blood sugar levels in people who have prediabetes and diabetes. Consuming these cherries also might lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation and lower body fat that can lead to heart disease.
Tart cherries might help to decrease the risks of developing neurodegenerative diseases. The anthocyanins contained in these sour cherries might repair or protect the cells that work with brain functions. The same compounds also might promote cell, joint and muscular health, thereby combating Parkinson's disease.
Tart cherries come available in several forms at health food stores and online. Eating the fresh fruit and snacking on dried cherries filled with antioxidants provide one of the most popular ways of reaping the medicinal benefits. Frozen pie cherry recipes offer a tasty way to incorporate the nutrients into some popular desserts. Liquid sour cherry supplements made from concentrate can be added to favorite foods and beverages to ensure anthocyanin intake. Tart cherry capsules work similarly to vitamin supplements in that they keep joint, heart and immune functions under control.
Two common categories of sour cherries exist to provide medical uses. Among them are the Montmorency cherry, which is identified by its bright, red skin with clear flesh. Montmorency cherries originated from France. The Balaton® cherry is another type that features red skin inside and outside of the fruit. A native of Hungary, Balaton® cherries were trademarked by Michigan State University following a breeding program.