Tart Cherries and Gout

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Tart Cherries and Gout

Tart cherries are one of the two main varieties of cherries. The other variety is sweet cherries. Tart cherries are also known as sour cherries. Cherries, and particularly sour cherries are now commonly linked with easing the symptoms of several illnesses and conditions which includes gout. So it seems tart cherries and gout are closely linked in this day and age.

Gout is one of the types of arthritis that is characterized by increased uric acid levels in the body. The uric acid crystallizes in the joints of the hands and feet causing inflammation and swelling which lead to very severe pain.

The link between tart cherries and gout had been thought to exist for many years even though there was no concrete proof of tart cherries and their beneficial effect on gout. This was until research studies conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture in the early 2000s. These research studies showed that consuming tart cherries significantly reduced uric acid levels in the body.

Tart cherries and gout are linked for several reasons. Tart cherries have significant levels of the mineral potassium. Potassium is necessary for the proper functioning of the kidneys. This mineral also helps the kidneys pass out uric acid in urine. This prevents the uric acid from crystallizing in the joints. Potassium also increases alkaline levels in the body. Alkalinity is known to inhibit the increase of uric acid levels.

Tart cherries and gout are also linked together due to the high levels of the phytochemicals (bioflavonoids and anthocyanins) which are very powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. The anthocyanins block the production of the enzymes that lead to the formation of prostaglandins, major culprits in inflammation. The anthocyanins also guard against the damage that can results from oxidative stress.

Quercitin is an antioxidant compound found in cherries that is beneficial for relieving gout as it inhibits the production of histamine. Histamine causes inflammation and swelling.

Tart cherries and gout are more commonly linked than sweet cherries and gout for the simple reason that tart cherries have higher concentrations of anthocyanins. They also have lower levels of sugar than sweet cherries. Sugar has been shown to increase the risk of gout.

Vitamin C is another reason why tart cherries and gout are thought to go hand in hand. Vitamin C is not only a powerful antioxidant but it prevents purines from becoming uric acid and helps the body metabolize uric acid so that it can be passed out in urine. Tart cherries have significant amounts of this vitamin.

Tart cherries for gout can be had in many different forms. You can drink tart cherry juice, eat fresh cherries, dried cherries, eat them as part of a recipe or in supplement form. It is best to use unsweetened varieties of the cherry juice concentrate due to the negative role sugar plays in gout.