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Tart Cherries May Fight Chronic Inflammation

High in antioxidants, tart cherries may reduce the chronic inflammation associated with “wear and tear” osteoarthritis.

Millions of Americans are affected by the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. Athletes in particular are at risk of developing this chronic condition due to repeated “wear and tear” associated with training and competing, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

Tart cherries, a natural food high in antioxidants, may reduce some of the chronic inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, and help athletes keep moving.

Exercising regularly is important for people suffering from osteoarthritis, to keep the joints lubricated and the surrounding muscles strong. Pain and stiffness, however, often makes hitting the gym or the pavement difficult.

In a recent study, researchers from Oregon Health and Science University gave juice made from tart cherries to 20 women between the ages of 40 and 70. The women drank the juice twice a day for three weeks.

Women who drank tart cherry juice showed a reduction in the level of inflammation in their body, with the most dramatic results seen with women who had higher levels at the start.

This matches a previous study by the same researchers, which showed that tart cherry juice could reduce pain in long-distance runners on the day of a race. Runners who used tart cherry juice had less inflammation and faster recovery of their muscle strength.

The researchers also found that tart cherries have the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food,” more than other antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries and pomegranates.

More research is needed to see what benefits tart cherries have for your overall health. If you are interested in trying out its anti-inflammatory powers, though, look for unsweetened juice made from 100 percent tart cherries.

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