How many cherries should I eat to help prevent gout attacks? That is the core question of this article. A lot of people have gout attacks and do not know why. This is because a lot people don’t know what causes gout, but it is easy to prevent if you know what causes it. Find out the best and worst foods for gout and gout symptoms.
What to eat and what to avoid! What are the best foods for gout? What are the worst? You may be surprised at what might be a problem food or drink for someone suffering from gout, read this article to find out the Health Benefits Of Eating Cherries and how to reduce gout.
How Many Cherries Should I Eat For Gout
Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis. It occurs when your blood has a buildup of uric acid. This acid causes crystals to form in a joint, which leads to sudden pain and swelling.
Gout generally goes through stages of severity. They include:
- asymptomatic hyperuricemia (high uric acid level before the first attack)
- acute gout
- interval gout (the time between attacks)
- chronic gout
The most common areas of the body to develop gout are the joints of the knee, ankle, and big toe.
Some people only experience one gout episode, while others may have several episodes throughout their lives.
The Arthritis Foundation estimates about 6 million American men and 2 million American women have gout.
Do Cherries Prevent Gout?
For years, people have shared anecdotal evidence that cherries and cherry juice extract can help prevent gout attacks. While more research is needed, many studies support this idea.
What Are Anti-Inflammatory Foods?
Cherries contain anthocyanins, which have great anti-inflammatory properties.
Cherries, uric acid, and gout attacks
A painful gout attack occurs when excess uric acid in the body forms crystals that collect in one or more joints, causing inflammation. Cherries have been shown to lower the levels of uric acid in the body and therefore might lower the risk of a gout attack.
For example, one large online survey asked people with gout to report their experiences over the course of one year. People answered questions about their intake of cherries and cherry extract, alcohol, and certain foods and medications in the two days leading up to a gout attack.
The survey results found:
- People who ate cherries or supplemented with cherry extract were 37% less likely to report gout attacks than people who had no cherry intake.
- People who ate cherries or supplemented with cherry extract and also took allopurinol, a drug prescribed to reduce urate in the blood, were 75% less likely to report gout attacks than people who did neither.
For this study, researchers defined one serving of cherries as ½ cup, or about 10 to 12 cherries. More than 3 servings did not seem to provide additional benefits.
How cherries may help prevent gout
Scientists know that cherries contain high levels of antioxidants, including anthocyanins and quercetin, as well as other nutrients. It is unclear how these nutrients may work individually or together to lower urate levels and decreases the chance of a gout attack.
Some researchers theorize that cherries:
- Have anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce the painful inflammation related to gout attacks
- May help counteract the process that leads to changes in bones in gout-affected joints
- Reduce oxidative stress (excess free radicals in the body), which is associated with gout
Experts suspect that oxidative stress in the body begins a biochemical cascade that promotes inflammation, which over time leads to gout and other degenerative diseases.
More research—particularly large studies involving human subjects—is needed to find out exactly if and how cherries prevent gout attacks.
Can cherry juice help relieve gout?
Gout occurs due to a buildup of uric acid in the blood. This buildup can form into needle shaped crystals that gather in and around the joints and other tissues (tophi).
The resulting inflammation can cause swelling and pain.
Cherries have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help relieve gout.
However, the evidence regarding whether or not drinking cherry juice is an effective treatment option for gout is conflicting.
What is the theory behind it?
Cherries contain anthocyanins, which are the compounds that give cherries their color.
One 2019 article notes that anthocyanins possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may be useful when treating the symptoms of gout.
The article states that oxidative stress can play a role in the manifestation of gout. Oxidative stress is the imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body.
Anthocyanins interfere with the oxidation process and remove free radicals.
Montmorency tart cherry skins contain high amounts of antioxidants. Tart cherry juice concentrate appears to be effective at absorbing free radicals.
Although the symptoms of gout occur due to an inflammatory response, existing research into whether or not the anti-inflammatory effects of cherry juice are effective in treating gout appears to be limited.
Does it work?
According to a 2019 systematic review, current evidence seems to support a positive correlation between the consumption of cherries and fewer gout flare-ups.
However, the researchers also note that there is a lack of relevant and long-term studies.
A 2012 pilot study suggests that consuming cherry juice concentrate for a period of 4 months or longer may reduce the number of acute gout flare-ups a person experiences.
The researchers indicate that this may be due to anti-inflammatory actions and suggest that cherry juice concentrate may be a useful treatment method.
In addition, cherry juice may lower the levels of uric acid in the body. One 2014 study into the effects of Montmorency cherry concentrate suggests that it can reduce uric acid and inflammation.
However, a more recent 2020 study suggests that cherry concentrate does not appear to lower the amount of uric acid in the body. It also seems to have no effect on uric acid levels in the urine.
Vs. black cherry juice
No research has looked into black cherry juice specifically.
The above 2019 article states that there are two main categories of cherries: sweet cherries, or Prunus avium, and tart cherries, or Prunus cerasus.
The article suggests that tart cherries, such as the Montmorency cherry, contain higher amounts of antioxidants, which may have an effect on gout symptoms and flare-ups.
Black cherries are typically sweeter, so they may contain lower levels of antioxidants.
How much should you drink?
There has not yet been enough research to confirm a recommended amount of cherry juice for gout.
However, according to the Arthritis Foundation, a person might find drinking a glass of cherry juice per day beneficial.
People should talk with a doctor before attempting to treat their gout with cherry juice. The doctor may be able to advise on an ideal amount to consume.
Adding cherries to your diet
If you have been diagnosed with gout and are considering incorporating cherries into your regular diet, you can try:
- Fresh or frozen tart cherries. Choose tart cherry varieties like Montorency or Balaton—they contain more anthocyanin antioxidants than sweet cherries (such as Bing cherries).
- Cherry juice. Look for 100% unsweetened tart cherry juice.
- Cherry extract. Liquid, tablet, and powder forms of cherry extract are sold over the counter. Avoid products that contain additives or added sugars.
Gout affects about one in 100 people, with men two to three times more likely to be affected than women.
In this study, researchers from Boston University recruited 633 gout patients with an average age of 54, who were followed online for one year. Most were male.
People were asked to record gout attacks including symptoms, the drugs they used and their diet and drinking patterns in the two days prior to the attack, including whether or not they had eaten cherries or cherry extract intake.
Ten to 12 cherries was counted as one serving.
During the period the patients were studied, they had a total of 1,247 gout attacks.
Some 42% of those studied ate cherries or cherry extract.
These patients had a 37% lower risk of gout attacks than those who did not eat the fruit – in any form.
However, the benefit was only seen when eating up to three servings over the two days prior to an attack. Further cherry consumption provided no extra benefit.
But when patients ate cherries or cherry extract and took the common anti-gout drug allopurinol, the risk of attacks was 75% less than if they were doing neither.
Writing in the journal, the team led by Dr Yuqing Zhang, said: “Our findings indicate that consuming cherries or cherry extract lowers the risk of gout attack.”
Prof Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK welcomed the research: “It has been thought for some time that some fruits, in particular cherries, may have benefits for diseases such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis which are characterised by chronic inflammation.
“It has been suggested that antioxidant compounds found in cherries may be natural inhibitors of enzymes which are targeted by common anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen.”
Prof Silman added: “This study provides good evidence to suggest that cherry intake, combined with traditional uric-acid reducing drugs, can significantly reduce the risk of painful gout attacks.
“Eating cherries, in fact, is not dissimilar to taking ibuprofen on a daily basis.
“However, we’d like to see additional clinical trials are necessary to further investigate and provide confirmation of this effect.”
Best And Worst Foods for Gout
Eat: Low-Fat Yogurt
Top a nice plain low-fat yogurt with some berries for a gout-friendly breakfast or snack. Certain proteins in milk help tell your body to get rid of uric acid, the culprit behind your condition.
Avoid: Certain Seafood
Not all coastal fare is bad for gout, but it’s best to only dabble in dishes of mussels, scallops, squid, shrimp, oysters, crab, and lobsters. Overindulging could raise uric acid levels and make gout symptoms worse.
Eat: Citrus Fruits
Grapefruit, oranges, pineapples, and strawberries are all great sources of vitamin C, which lowers your uric acid levels and helps prevent gout attacks. But if you take colchicine for your gout, skip the grapefruit. It can interact with your meds.
Avoid: Organ Meats
Meats like liver and tongue are chock-full of purines, compounds that your body tends to turn into uric acid. Leave these out of your diet.
Shore up those healthy fats while getting your antioxidants, too. Avocados are high in vitamin E, an anti-inflammatory that can help curb gout flares.
Avoid: Red Meat
Red meat isn’t as high in purines as organ meats are, but they have enough that it’s wise to eat beef, venison, and bison only on occasion to keep your uric acid levels lower. Your safest picks are white meats like pork and chicken.
The pigments that give cherries their deep purple-red color are called anthocyanins. They give you an antioxidant boost and help reduce inflammation in the body.
Avoid: White Bread
The quicker a food raises your blood sugar, the worse it is for uric acid levels. Refined carbs like white bread, cookies, and cake can send your blood sugar soaring and aren’t great for gout.
Since many meats are (mostly) off the menu, you can get your protein from plants such as peas, beans, and lentils. They’re uric acid-neutral and may even help ward off gout attacks.
Health Benefits Of Eating Cherries
1. Benefits for inflammation
Inflammation is part of the body’s natural response to illness or injury. In the short term, it can be helpful. However, long-term inflammation is involved in many chronic conditions.
Although a diet that is generally high in fruits, vegetables, and fiber can help lower inflammation, cherries may be particularly beneficial as part of an anti-inflammatory diet.
According to a 2018 reviewTrusted Source, 11 out of 16 human studies into cherries and inflammation showed that they decreased inflammation. This applied to both tart and sweet varieties of cherry, and it included cherry fruits, juices, and concentrates.
2. Benefits for gout
The anti-inflammatory properties of cherries may also help with gout.
Gout causes sudden and severe joint pain. This is triggered by high levels of uric acid in the blood. One 2018 reviewTrusted Source stated that the consumption of cherries could help a person maintain moderate levels of uric acid in the body.
The review discussed a 2012 studyTrusted Source that found that taking cherry concentrate or eating cherries led to a 35% reduction in gout episodes over a 2-day period. This effect remained the same regardless of sex, body weight, purine and alcohol intake, diuretic use, and anti-gout medication use.
The authors of the 2018 review stated that although more long-term studies are necessary, these findings are promising.
3. Benefits for heart health
In general, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat is best for heart health. However, cherries may be especially valuable in a heart-healthy diet, as they show potential for lowering blood pressure.
The 2018 reviewTrusted Source mentioned several studies in which various cherry products lowered blood pressure. One such older study in females with diabetes found that taking 40 grams (g) of tart cherry concentrate per day for 6 weeks significantly lowered blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.
Cherries contain several nutrients that may help with blood pressure, including polyphenols and potassium.
Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant that can prevent oxidative damage. A large 2018 observational studyTrusted Source suggested that increased polyphenol consumption could lower blood pressure.
One hundred gramsTrusted Source of raw sweet cherries contains around 5% of a person’s Daily Value of potassium, which is 4,700 milligrams (mg)Trusted Source. An adequate intake of potassium is importantTrusted Source for maintaining healthy blood pressure.
4. Benefits for sleep
According to a 2013 studyTrusted Source, cherries are a rich, natural source of melatonin, which is a neurotransmitter that influences sleep and mood. Melatonin can be useful for those who have insomnia, as it is the chemical that induces sleepiness.
Another 2013 studyTrusted Source involved participants aged between 20 and 85 years. Among other outcomes, the researchers studied the effects on sleep of those who ate a cherry-based product and those who had a placebo.
Among the participants who consumed the cherry-based product, sleep and nocturnal rest significantly improved. Older participants experienced an even more marked improvement.
5. Benefits for exercise recovery
Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. However, it can result in sore muscles or, if a person exercises in a way that causes strain, injury.
A 2020 meta-analysisTrusted Source involved participants who consumed tart cherry concentrate as a powder or juice for 7 days until 1.5 hours before exercising.
The results revealed that tart cherry consumption improved a person’s endurance during exercise. This was possibly due to its low glycemic index and anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and blood flow-enhancing properties.
Scientists need to carry out more research to determine whether or not cherries can reduce recovery times and soreness after exercise.