Two glasses of juice a day could cut risk of heart attack or stroke, study finds

Red transparent juice or wine pouring into the glass with splashes and bubbles against natural green background. Close up cherry or pomegranate or cranberry juice or wine. Healthy eating concept.
Tart cherry juice is packed with heart healthy compounds -Credit:Getty Images/iStockphoto

Downing two servings daily of tart cherry juice could reduce the likelihood of serious heart conditions, according to scientific research.

Boasting a high concentration of polyphenols, plant compounds known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, these sour fruits may serve as a safeguard against cardiovascular diseases.

A study focused on individuals aged 65-80 determined that regular consumption also decreased vulnerability to inflammation and oxidative stress, both factors in severe illnesses. This conclusion was based on observed reductions in blood levels of c-reactive protein (CRP) and Malondialdehyde (MDA), indicative chemicals of such processes.

Strikingly, in only 12 weeks, this tart cherry juice managed to cut 'bad cholesterol' or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) by 11 percent and CRP by 25 percent. Moreover, there was a three percent drop seen in MDA levels, Gloucestershire Live reports.

In addition to all these benefits, it sparked activity in OGG1, a gene associated with DNA repair.

Upset stressed mature middle aged woman feeling pain ache touching chest having heart attack, sad worried senior older lady suffers from heartache at home, infarction or female heart disease concept
Regularly downing the juice could help ward of serious heart conditions -Credit:Getty Images/iStockphoto

Dr Sheau Ching Chai, primary investigator and a nutritionist from Delaware University in the US, commented: "Our findings suggest Montmorency tart cherry juice may be a good addition to a heart-healthy diet."

The research, which included 34 older adults, randomly assigned participants to drink either eight ounces of tart cherry juice or a placebo beverage twice daily. Dr Chai revealed: "At the end participants in the tart cherry group had lower systolic blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, as well as lower levels of certain substances in the blood that indicate inflammation and oxidative stress, including the biomarkers of CRP and MDA, compared to the control group."

Systolic blood pressure, the top number in a reading, measures the force your blood exerts on artery walls while the heart is beating. Normal blood pressure is considered to be below 120/80 mmHg.

Dr Chai noted: "The compliance rate of our participants was quite high, at 94 per cent, suggesting a cup of tart cherry juice twice a day can easily be incorporated and enjoyed in an overall diet."

Dr Chai pointed out that consuming 16 ounces of Montmorency tart cherry juice daily, which is the amount used in the study, contains only 181 calories and 34 grams of sugar. This is comparatively less than other popular fruit juices and fizzy drinks. Importantly, it did not lead to weight gain or changes in insulin levels or resistance among the participants.

Dr Chai concluded: "This suggests Montmorency tart cherry juice can easily be incorporated into the diet without increasing calorie or sugar intake - especially if consumed in place of sugar-sweetened beverages."

Tart cherries, also known as sour or dwarf cherries, have seen a surge in popularity recently and are not to be confused with the sweet cherries we often enjoy fresh. The juice is derived from the Prunus cerasus tree, native to southwest Asia and Europe.

The cherry has been associated with a plethora of health benefits such as enhancing muscle strength, improving sleep quality, alleviating arthritis symptoms, and offering protection against brain disorders like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Dr Chai, whose research was sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute representing US growers, stated that this study is the most comprehensive human trial of its kind. She urged for more extensive and prolonged follow-up studies to validate these findings.

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