The sweetness of Stemilt cherries goes beyond their great flavor. These tasty summer fruits are equally sweet when it comes to promoting good health and nutrition, and especially valuable for the estimated 53 million adults and 300,000 children that suffer from joint pain or joint disease in the United States.

Arthritis is the well-known term for more than 100 different types of joint pain or disease, and according to the Arthritis Foundation, is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. The various types of arthritis are generally broken out into four categories: degenerative arthritis, inflammatory arthritis, infectious arthritis, and metabolic arthritis. Treatments vary for each specific type and should be closely monitored by a healthcare provider. However, in this post, we’ll share research findings that suggest that eating sweet cherries often can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with inflammatory arthritis, and the more severe disease, called gout.

Over a decade ago, researchers from the Agriculture Research Services and University of California-Davis studied the effects consuming fresh dark-sweet cherries could have on reducing pains caused by gout. There are about 6 million men and 2 million women in the U.S. that suffer from gout. Gout may develop in people who have high levels of uric acid in their blood. The acid forms crystals in a joint and causes sudden, severe episodes of pain most commonly in the big toe, ankle, or knee.

During the study, researchers gave 10 healthy women, ages 22 to 40, approximately 45 fresh, pitted Bing cherries for breakfast, and studied the impact the antioxidants in cherries had on fighting inflammation. Participants avoided other high-antioxidant foods that fight inflammation two days prior to the study, including red wine, tea, and certain fruits and vegetables. Following the cherry breakfast, researchers measured the participants plasma urate levels, as urate in blood plasma is a precursor to many of the uric acid crystals that form before a gout attack. They measured the amount of urate that was moved out of the body through in urine as well.

The study found plasma urate levels in participants to decrease significantly over the 5 hours that followed their cherry breakfast. The levels of urate removed from the body in urine increased during the same time period. The results suggested that cherries can play an important role in fighting gout, and other pains or diseases associated with inflammation.

With cherry season now underway, there’s no better time to enjoy the flavors of the fruit and its many health benefits, including fighting inflammation for those that suffer from arthritis or gout. You can read more about cherry nutrition and the health benefits of cherries in this post and this post. And for those that can’t get enough of this superfood, read our post about freezing cherries so that you can enjoy the fruit all year long.