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Cherries challenge gout

17-Jun-2003

A small study supports the reputed anti-gout efficacy of cherries, write researchers in the Journal of Nutrition this month.

The team found that the plasma urate dropped in 10 healthy women who ate sweet cherries after an overnight fast. Their urinary urate concentrations rose after they ate cherries, with peak excretion taking place three hours later.

As well as plasma urate markers, the researchers from the US Department of Agriculture's ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center at the University of California, Davis, also measured antioxidant and inflammatory markers in the study subjects. They found an increase in plasma ascorbic acid among the women, indicating that dehydroascorbic acid (the sole vitamin C content of the cherries) in fruits is bioavailable as vitamin C.

The women, aged 22-40 years old, consumed two servings (280g) of cherries after an overnight fast. Blood and urine samples were taken before the cherry dose, and at 1.5, 3 and 5 hours afterwards. Plasma urate decreased 5 hours postdose to 183 µmol/L compared with predose baseline of 214 µmol/L on average. C-reactive protein and nitric oxide concentrations also decreased marginally 3 hours after cherry consumption.

This decrease in plasma urate produced after eating the cherries backs the theory that the fruit has an anti-gout effect, write the researchers. 'Gout' is a recurrent acute arthritis of peripheral joints caused by the accumulation of monosodium urate crystals. The researchers add that the trend toward decreased inflammatory indices (C-reactive protein and nitric oxide) adds to the in vitro evidence that compounds in cherries may inhibit inflammatory pathways.