Cherries in Your Diets for Good Health

By: Bel Marra Health | Functional Foods | Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 01:08 AM

dietsAmong the fruits and vegetables available in local groceries, cherries are considered as a common component in making pies and jams.  Eating fresh cherries as part of our daily diets may facilitate in achieving good health, especially when one looks into the nutritional value of this fruit.  Cherries are rich in dietary fiber and may help in the softening of the stool and prevent constipation.  In addition, dietary fiber may also decrease the transit time of the stool as it moves along the intestinal tract for eventual excretion.  Diets rich in fiber, such as those that include sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables, may thus promote good health.

Cherries for Good Health

The inclusion of cherries in daily diets may also serve as a source of vitamin C, an essential vitamin that is associated with various biochemical reactions in cell growth.  A deficiency in vitamin C, also known as scurvy, occurs when regular diets do not include fruits and vegetables.  Scurvy is characterized by a dysfunctional capacity to synthesize collagen, with patients generally presenting malaise, spotted skin, and bleeding in the mouth.  Interestingly, cherries are also rich in anthocyanins, which are plant-derived pigments that give color to plants, but more importantly, help in scavenging for highly reactive free radicals that can cause damage to tissues.

According to Dr. Garrido, a physiologist and nutritionist who published a recent report in the International Journal of Tryptophan Research, the consumption of fresh cherries in regular diets may also be a rich source of L-tryptophan.  This essential amino acid is generally derived from regular diets and it is strongly associated with the production of a wide range of proteins in the body.  L-tryptophan also serves as a precursor of a myriad of biological active molecules such as serotonin, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), and melatonin.  This essential amino acid is also supplied in the market in tablet or capsule form and has been used as natural support of mood and healthy sleep.

Cherries As One of the Functional Fruits

The report explained that cherries promote good health because these contain bioactive compounds possessing therapeutic value.  The report focused on the analysis of sweet cherries produced in the Jerte Valley of Spain, which are propagated in seven different varieties (cultivars).  Using high-performance liquid chromatography equipped with fluorescence detection, Dr. Garrido and her team quantitatively determined the amount of L-tryptophan present in cherries at different processing stages.  In Spain, cherries are marketed as fresh fruit, as well as in powder or liquid form, which are the products of the manufacturing process of pitting, homogenizing, freezing, and freeze-drying.

The results of their study showed that the L-tryptophan content in cherries in liquid and powder forms showed significantly higher amounts of the essential amino acid, as compared to that in fresh cherries.  Quantitative assessment showed that fresh cherries contained L-tryptophan at a concentration of 0.002 grams per 100 grams of edible fruit.  This amount is similar to the tryptophan content in pears and tangerines.  Interestingly, apples contain half the amount of L-tryptophan compared to cherries.

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Research studies have previously shown that L-tryptophan may play a role in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, in which disturbances in this biological activity may result in insomnia and other types of sleep disorders.  The determination of the amount of L-tryptophan in cherries may be helpful to those who are trying to find a natural remedy for their sleep disturbances, as well as finding certain fruits and vegetables that may also be included in their regular diets to promote good health.  Based on the findings of Dr. Garrido’s group, together with earlier reports on the nutritional value of cherries, it may be beneficial to include cherries in daily diets to receive the positive effects of this fruit.

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