Don't Miss
Now offering online orders with Grab-n-Go in-car pickup

Tart cherry juice helps reduce inflammation in older adults

Inflammation, according to WebMD, is the process whereby the body’s white blood cells and other substances provide a first line defense to infection and foreign invaders — like bacteria and viruses. In contrast, our body can trigger an immune response, such as with autoimmune diseases like arthritis, which sets up and inflammatory response in the absence of a foreign challenge.

JAMA Network Open says that, “obesity stimulates a ‘meta-inflammatory’ state — a chronic low-grade systemic innate immune activation. A similar process occurs with aging, even in the absence of obesity, in what has been called inflammaging.”

Symptoms of inflammation include redness, swollen joints, heat, joint pain, swelling, loss of motion and function, and stiffness — with potentially associated conditions such as fever, chills, headaches, and loss of appetite.

We can also associate cardiovascular disease (CVD) — the leading cause of death in the US — with this inflammatory response. An estimated 80% of people, who succumb to CVD, will be over the age of 65. By 2040, 82 million people in the US will be 65 or older, making the CVD inflammatory risk a major health obstacle.

It’s the atherosclerotic state, which occurs in the deep arterial wall (intima), that starts the inflammatory cascade. An elevated low-density cholesterol (LDL) “bad cholesterol” starts a process that culminates with a buildup of fatty streaks, which may harden and calcify, causing plaque accumulation that impedes blood flow, netting inflammation, arterial stiffness, and elevated blood pressure (BP).

Research has demonstrated that inflammation and oxidative stress are both tied to atherosclerosis, as well as, vascular endothelial (lining of the vessels) function. An inflammatory marker, C-reactive protein (CRP), which can be measured with a blood test, reduces the production and availability of nitric oxide (NO) – a molecule that negates platelet adherence (stickiness) and constriction of the artery.

The National Health and Nutrition Examine Survey (NHANES) data has shown that stroke and CVD mortality have decreased proportionally to the increased intake, 5 to 7 serving per day of fruit and vegetables, such as beets, which are a source of nitrate.

Researchers the University of Delaware and the Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China, comment that, “our recently published 12 weeks randomized controlled trial demonstrated that tart cherry juice can lower systolic BP and LDL cholesterol in older adults.” And, “we hypothesized that the cardioprotective effects of tart cherry juice occur through its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.”

Appearing in the February issue of Nutrients, Effects of Tart Cherry Juice Biomarkers of Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Older Adults, the researchers employed a randomized-controlled clinical trial, using 37 men and women between the ages of 65–80, who were randomly assigned to consume 480 milliliters of tart cherry juice or control drink daily for 12 weeks. In addition, blood biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress were assessed at the beginning and after 12 weeks intervention.

Appropriate pre and post testing, medical history, medications, typical food intake, and supplement use, along with fasting blood chemistries for inflammatory and oxidative stress markers, anthropometric, dietary, and physical activity assessment.

After the 12 weeks intervention, the results reflected that older adults in the tart cherry group had lower systolic BP and LDL cholesterol compared to control group. “Our current study demonstrated that tart cherry juice significantly increased the DNA repair activity of OGG1 (oxidative marker) and lowered the levels of CRP compared to the control group,” according to the investigators.

While further research is needed, it was concluded that, “the BP- and LDL-lowering effect of tart cherry juice may be through its anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties,” which is quite important, since both inflammation and oxidative can increase with advancing age – leading to the development of chronic “inflammatory-type” disease.

Tart cherry may stain teeth, so brush after.

Remember, you should always consult your physician before beginning any exercise, diet, or nutritional supplementation program.

Article and photo originally appeared on

Mackie on Wednesdays on