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Eating as little as one and a half cups of tart cherries can significantly increase the antioxidant activity in the body, according to researchers presenting at the 2009 Experimental Biology meetings in New Orleans. High antioxidant activity in the blood has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease and is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects.
The study consisted of 12 healthy adults between the ages of 18-25 who were randomly assigned to eat either one and a half or three cups of frozen cherries. Researchers then gave the subjects blood and urine tests over time and found increased antioxidant activity for up to 12 hours in both groups.
"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," said Sara L. Warber, MD, co-director of University of Michigan Integrative Medicine and principal investigator of the study.
Animal studies have previously linked cherries and cherry compounds to various health benefits such as reduced inflammation and lower risk factors for heart disease, such as cholesterol and triglycerides. There has even been some evidence of cherries reducing abdominal fat, the kind most linked to heart disease and stroke.
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