Cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 killer of both men and women in North America. Changes in diet and exercise can go a long way in helping to keep your heart healthy.
A good place to start is eating more fruits and vegetables, especially deeply hued produce that’s packed with heart-healthy compounds. Typically, the darker the color, the better.
Be sure to add Montmorency tart cherries to the mix. Researchers believe Montmorency tart cherries may provide a number of cardiovascular benefits due to the intensity of anthocyanins inside these ruby-red fruits. Studies indicate that Montmorency tart cherries may help lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce inflammation and improve belly fat – all factors specifically linked to heart disease risk.
A look at the evidence:
- Lowers blood pressure and “bad” cholesterol. A University of Delaware research study found that older adults who drank tart cherry juice made from U.S.-grown tart cherries experienced a reduction in systolic blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol.
- Protects the heart. A high intake of anthocyanins – abundant in purple and dark red fruits and vegetables like Montmorency tart cherries – was associated with a decreased risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women. Find more about this study here.
- Reduces stroke risk. The University of Michigan Cardioprotection Research Laboratory suggests Montmorency tart cherries may help reduce the risk of stroke. They found that Montmorency tart cherries acted similar to prescribed drugs used to help regulate fat and glucose in patients with metabolic syndrome. Find more about this study here.
- Lowers triglycerides. High triglycerides in your blood can raise your risk of heart disease. This study found that consuming 8 ounces of Montmorency tart cherry juice daily helped to lower triglycerides by 17 percent, on average. Check out this study here.
- Decreases cholesterol levels. Scientists reported a 26 percent decrease in total cholesterol levels in mice that were given a tart cherry powder, as well as a 65 percent reduction in early death – likely due to improved cardiovascular health. Read the study here.
What you can do:
Look for ways to add Montmorency tart cherries to your heart-healthy eating plan. Start off the day with a glass of Montmorency tart cherry juice or top your steel-cut oats with dried Montmorency tart cherries and walnuts.
If you’re eating more omega 3-rich salmon, keep a bag of frozen Montmorency tart cherries in your freezer to make a cherry glaze to top the fish.
Add dried Montmorency tart cherries to your whole-grain dishes, and mix them into your fresh fruit salads.