Tart cherries linked to reduced risk of stroke

April 24, 2013
Tart cherries linked to reduced risk of stroke

(Medical Xpress)—For the millions of Americans at risk for heart disease or diabetes, a diet that includes tart cherries might actually be better than what the doctor ordered, according to new animal research from the University of Michigan Health System.

A class of drugs called PPAR agonists that help regulate fat and glucose was considered promising by doctors who prescribed them for patients with metabolic syndrome – a collection of risk factors linked to heart disease and type 2. However, studies have shown the long-term use of these drugs can also increase , which has prevented many from securing .

The new research from the U-M Cardioprotection Research Laboratory suggests that tart cherries not only provide similar cardiovascular benefits as the , but can also reduce the risk of stroke, even when taken with these pharmaceutical options.

The results, which were seen in stroke-prone rats, were presented Tuesday, April 23 at the 2013 meeting in Boston.

The group's previous research has shown that intake of U.S.-produced, Montmorency tart cherries activates PPAR isoforms ( activating receptors) in many of the body's tissues. Researchers believe that anthocyanins – the pigments that give the fruit its red color – may be responsible for PPAR activation.

PPARs regulate genes involved in fat and , and when modified can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. PPAR , among them medications such as Actos (pioglitazone), act in a similar way but cardiovascular side effects have limited their use.

"Our previous research has shown that Montmorency tart cherries can have a positive effect on cardiovascular health and can reduce risk factors like and diabetes," says E. Mitchell Seymour, Ph.D., supervisor of the Cardioprotection Research Laboratory. "While improve the outlook for certain risk factors, they've also shown to have undesirable side effects. We wanted to see if a tart cherry-rich diet might provide similar without the risk of heart attack or stroke."

The researchers compared the effect of tart cherries and the drug Actos in stroke-prone rats by measuring the animals' systolic blood pressure as well as locomotion, balance, coordination, all of which can show the aftereffects of a stroke.

By putting the rats through various physical tests, such as walking on a tapered beam and climbing a ladder, the researchers found that compared to Actos, tart cherry intake significantly improved balance and coordination, and at the same time lowered blood pressure.

While the research results indicate that rats who consumed only tart cherries had the best results, those who had the combination of tart cherries and Actos also did better than those who only took the drug. Seymour cautioned that the results can't be applied directly to humans, but they are a potentially positive sign for those taking medications.

"We weren't sure if the risk for stroke would decline in animals taking both tart cherry and the drug," Seymour says. "It turns out that the cherries did have a positive effect even when combined with the medication."

Steven Bolling, M.D., a U-M cardiac surgeon and the laboratory's director, said the study adds to the group's growing body of research linking cherries to positive heart health. The results provide the groundwork for continued investigation into the topic, he says.

"This research is the first to link to cherries to a reduction in stroke-related symptoms," Bolling says. "It gives us a good preclinical model to further explore the positive stroke-related benefits of an anthocyanin-rich diet."

Explore further: Three new studies link eating red to a healthy heart

Related Stories

Three new studies link eating red to a healthy heart

April 12, 2011
Tart cherries have a unique combination of powerful antioxidants that may help reduce risk factors for heart disease, according to new research presented at the Experimental Biology annual meeting in Washington, DC.

Researchers say tart cherries have 'the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food'

May 30, 2012
Tart cherries may help reduce chronic inflammation, especially for the millions of Americans suffering from debilitating joint pain and arthritis, according to new research from Oregon Health & Science University presented ...

Recommended for you

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

Serious health risks associated with energy drinks

November 15, 2017
A new review of current scientific knowledge on energy drinks finds their advertised short-term benefits can be outweighed by serious health risks—which include risk-seeking behavior, mental health problems, increased blood ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.