For the millions of Americans at risk for heart disease or diabetes, a diet that includes tart cherries might actually be better than what the doctor ordered, according to new animal research from the University of Michigan Health System.
A class of drugs called PPAR agonists that help regulate fat and glucose was considered promising by doctors who prescribed them for patients with metabolic syndrome – a collection of risk factors linked to heart disease and type 2. However, studies have shown the long-term use of these drugs can also increase stroke risk, which has prevented many from securing FDA approval.
The new research from the U-M Cardioprotection Research Laboratory suggests that tart cherries not only provide similar cardiovascular benefits as the prescribed medications, but can also reduce the risk of stroke, even when taken with these pharmaceutical options.
The results, which were seen in stroke-prone rats, were presented Tuesday, April 23 at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting in Boston.
The group’s previous research has shown that intake of U.S.-produced, Montmorency tart cherries activates PPAR isoforms (peroxisome proliferator activating receptors) in many of the body’s tissues. Researchers believe that anthocyanins – the pigments that give the fruit its red color – may be responsible for PPAR activation.