Study reveals top functional cherry types

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Antioxidant

A new study investigating the bioactivity of cherry compounds has identified polyphenol-rich varieties that could be ‘promising functional foods’

The study, published online in the journal Food Chemistry​, assessed the bioactivity of antioxidant compounds in nine varieties of cherry - Van, Ulster, Summit, Saco, Morangão, Maring, Lapin, Garnet, EVCompact.

Catarina Duarte from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, led research that found high correlations between the total concentration of polyphenols and anthocyanins and the antioxidant and anti-cancer activities measured in all varieties of cherry.

The most promising varieties of cherry were found to be Saco, Ulster and Lapin.

Bioactive Compounds

Previous studies on cherries have suggested that they are a rich source of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols. Interest has begun to focus on anthocyanins, especially cyanidins, as studies have indicated they have potential to inhibit tumor growth, slow cardiovascular diseases and delay the aging process.

In the new study, the researchers assessed the antioxidant activity and anti cancer effects of different cherries, with the aim of evaluating and comparing the bioactive effects, and finding the most promising cherry varieties for use as functional foods.

Differing Contents

The research results indicate that all the nine cherry varieties investigated have different phenolic contents, with each variety displaying distinct antioxidant levels and activities.

Cherry varieties with a total anthocyanin concentration of higher than 200mg/100g (Lapin, EVCompact, Saco, Ulster) were observed to have the highest antioxidant effects, whilst Saco and Lapin varieties of cherry were seen to be the most effective inhibitors of low-density-lippoprotien (LDL) oxidation due to their overall high antioxidant content.

Results from the study also suggest that total anthocyanins (in particular cyanidin glycosides) are responsible for the ability to inhibit growth of human colon and gastric cancer cells. The study found three cherry varieties (Saco, Ulster and Lapin) to have more phenolic compounds, a higher antioxidant activity, and the most effective in inhibiting human cancer cells.

The researchers wrote: Correlation of the data obtained showed that anthocyanins were the major contributors to the antioxidant capacity and anti-proliferative effect of cherries.”

Promising Functions

The study concludes that cherries with high concentrations of polyphenols are “a rich source of bioactive ingredients with high antioxidant capacity and anti-proliferative effect in human cancer cells.”

The researchers said that cherry varieties such as Saco, Ulster and Lapin could be considered as “promising functional foods for human health applications.”

One limitation of the study may be that the amount of antioxidant polyphenols in cherries varies widely both between and within each cherry variety. It has been suggested that this may be due to various environmental and post-harvest factors such as climatic conditions, fruit maturity, and storage method. Future research may wish to investigate how the varieties identified as ‘promising’ in this study are affected by such variables.

Source: Food Chemistry

Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2010.07.088

“Identification of bioactive response in traditional cherries from Portugal”

Authors: A.T. Serra, R.O. Duarte, M.R. Bronze, C.M.M. Duarte

Related topics: Research, Antioxidants/carotenoids

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