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Originally published May 1 2005

Cherries contain antioxidant that can fight diabetes

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

Research chemists have found that cherries are abundant with naturally-occurring chemicals that lower blood sugar levels in diabetic individuals. The chemicals are called anthocyanins, and in early laboratory studies they were found to increase insulin production by 50 percent. The study's lead author says that it is possible that cherry consumption could have a significant impact on insulin levels in humans.

The benefits could have a wider scope than just diabetes. Some anthocyanins are thought by researchers to also have anti-inflammatory properties, which could be useful in treating arthritis. Additionally, researchers believe that cherries may help fight colon cancer.

Perhaps George Washington wouldn't have chopped down his father's cherry tree if he knew what chemists now know. In early laboratory studies using animal pancreatic cells, the chemicals, called anthocyanins, increased insulin production by 50 percent, according to a peer-reviewed study scheduled to appear in the Jan. 5, 2005 issue of the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Anthocyanins are a class of plant pigments responsible for the color of many fruits, including cherries. They also are potent antioxidants, highly active chemicals that have been increasingly associated with a variety of health benefits, including protection against heart disease and cancer. "It is possible that consumption of cherries and other fruits containing these compounds [anthocyanins] could have a significant impact on insulin levels in humans," says study leader Muralee Nair, PhD, a natural products chemist at Michigan State University in East Lansing. "We're excited with the laboratory results so far, but more studies are needed." Until human studies are done on cherry anthocyanins, those with diabetes should continue following their doctor's treatment recommendations, including any medicine prescribed, and monitor their insulin carefully, the researcher says. The compounds show promise for both the prevention of type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes, the most common type, and for helping control glucose levels in those who already have diabetes, he adds. While fresh cherries and fruits containing these anthocyanins are readily available, medicinal products may be the most efficient way to provide the beneficial compounds, according to Nair. Scientists in Nair's laboratory have even developed a unique process, patented by the university, for removing sugar from fruit extracts that contain anthocyanins. The compounds are found in both sweet and sour (tart) cherry varieties.

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