New Research Suggests Tart Cherries May Help Intestinal Health

Montmorency tart cherries, the varietal of tart cherries that are commonly grown in the U.S., may play a role in improving intestinal health, suggests a first-of-its kind human trial of nine adults combined with a parallel laboratory study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. An international team of scientists found that Montmorency tart cherries helped to positively impact the gut microbiome - a collection of trillions of bacteria and other microbes that live in the intestinal tract. 

The microbiome has been the focus of multiple studies in recent years due to its potential role in maintaining digestive health, as well as its impact on immunity, heart health, blood sugar control, weight management, and even brain health. The intestinal microbiome holds great promise, especially related to personalized nutrition, although the research is still evolving and larger, long-term human intervention studies are needed. However, the new study does suggest that Montmorency tart cherries can be added to the list of intestine-friendly foods.

While previous studies on Montmorency tart cherries have ranged from heart health and exercise recovery to sleep, this is the first study to explore the potential intestinal health benefits. The researchers speculate that it may be due to the polyphenols (anthocyanins and other flavonoids) in Montmorency tart cherries. Polyphenols in plant-based foods are broken down by microbes to stimulate growth of good bacteria.

"Montmorency tart cherries were a logical food to study due to their unique composition of polyphenols, including chlorogenic acids," said principal investigator Franck Carbonero,  assistant professor in the Department of Food Science in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food, and Life Sciences. "Our results suggest that the unique polyphenol mixture in tart cherries may help positively shape the gut microbiome, which could potentially have far-reaching health implications."

About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture. 

Contacts

Connie Tharel, administrative specialist II
Food Science
479-575-4605, ctharel@uark.edu

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