The pain of gout can be debilitating, but one of the means to prevent a future gout flare up may be as close as the produce section—cherries.
Gout attacks are caused by a build-up of uric acid in the body, which crystallizes in the joints, causing intense pain. This production of uric acid can be combated by taking medications and avoiding foods and beverages that are high in purines, a substance that increases uric acid production.
Benefits of cherries and cherry juice
Those who deal with gout—and even their physicians and rheumatologists—have long shared anecdotal evidence that cherries and cherry juice extract can help prevent gout episodes.
See Gout Prevention
A few studies have been done to that demonstrate the benefits of cherries. One study surveyed hundreds of people with gout and asked them about their experiences during the two days leading up to a gout attack, plus a few normal two-day periods as a control.
Researchers found that those who took cherry juice extract during the two-day period had a 45% lower risk for a gout attack, compared with those who had no cherry intake. Those who consumed up to 3 servings of cherries over the two-day period had a 35% decreased risk. One serving equaled ½ cup or 10 to 12 cherries.1
Why do cherries help? Experts believe it's because they contain a high level of an anti-inflammatory antioxident known as anthocyanins. It's also found in other fruits that are deep red, blue, or purple in color. Cherries also contain vitamin C, which has been shown to contribute to lower levels of uric acid.
Tips for adding cherries to your diet
You can get the benefits of cherries from eating the fruit or from consuming cherry juice, extract, tablets, or powder. Aim for maximum 2 bowls of cherries or 2 cups of juice a day.
These tips can help you get the best benefits from cherries:
- Choose tart cherry varieties like Montorency or Balaton—they contain more anthocyanins than black cherries.
- Look for 100% cherry juice or powders, with no additives or added sugars.
- Avoid cherry brandy, cherry pie filling, or cherry syrup. The added sugar and alcohol in these products nullifies the health benefits of the cherries.
- "Cherry Consumption and the Risk of Recurrent Gout Attacks." Arthritis & Rheumatology. Dec 2012; 64(12): 4004–4011.