Seeing Red"Eat Red” is becoming a new mantra for health-conscious consumers who are looking for natural ingredients in products to promote good health. Red foods, including cherries, tomatoes, red grapes, strawberries and beets, are packed with powerful, health-promoting antioxidants. Science suggests the pigments that make up the deep red color in these fruits and vegetables may help reduce inflammation associated with atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries and reduce certain risk factors for heart disease.
Tart cherries--a red Superfruit--have been gaining attention for their powerful nutritional profile and taste appeal. Commonly enjoyed as dried, frozen and in juice, tart cherries are rich in antioxidants--in fact, they contain similar amounts as blueberries and other berries.
Recent research from the University of Michigan found that a cherry-enriched diet reduced inflammation markers in animals by up to 50%, a key risk factor for heart disease.1 Scientists believe the anthocyanins--which are also responsible for cherries’ vibrant red color—are responsible for this anti-inflammatory benefit. Other studies indicate that anthocyanins may be beneficial for a range of inflammatory-related conditions, including arthritis.2-4
Cherries are also one of the few known, researched food sources of melatonin, a potent antioxidant that may help improve the body’s natural sleep patterns and aid with jet lag.
Because of their varied forms and year-round availability, cherries are a versatile ingredient for numerous food products and are an easy swap for other fruits and berries. Plus, cherries win on taste. Recent consumer research revealed that nearly twice as many consumers prefer the taste of cherries (62%) compared to blueberries5, and tart cherry product applications have broad appeal across ages and taste preferences.
Tart cherries provide a “healthy halo” and taste appeal, when used as an ingredient in various food trends, including:
* Prepared entrées, including ethnic and American classics.
* Grab-and-go breakfast foods, such as bars and pastries.
* Dips, marinades and salsas to be used as a condiment or grilling accompaniment.
* Healthy snacks, like savory-sweet trail mixes and smoothies.
* Functional beverages that promise improved health benefits.
By incorporating tart cherries into these popular foods, it is easy to simultaneously take advantage of the popularity of red Superfruits and consumers’ desire to use food to improve their well-being. For more nutrition and health benefits information and application ideas, visit www.choosecherries.com. pf
--Jeff Manning, chief marketing officer, Cherry Marketing Institute
1 Tart cherry-enriched diets reduce abdominal obesity and inflammation in Zucker fatty rats. Experimental Biology 2008 702.7, Seymour EM, et al. Presented in minisymposium 702.7, Dietary Bioactive Compounds III: Chronic Disease Risk Reduction.
2 Blau, LW. 1950. Cherry diet control for gout and arthritis. Texas Reports on Biology and Medicine. 8:309-311.
3 Jacob, RA, et al, 2003. Consumption of cherries lowers plasma urate in healthy women, J Nutr. 133:1862-1829.
4 Tall JM, et al. 2004. Tart cherry anthocyanins suppress inflammation-induced pain behavior in rat. Behav Brain Res. 153:181-188.
5 Survey of 1,000 adults conducted by Opinion Research Corporation’s Caravan Services, December 14, 2006, on behalf of Cherry Marketing Institute.
For more information:
Cherry Marketing Institute • Lansing, Mich.
Jeff Manning • 517-669-4264
R&D: Seeing Red -- August 2008
August 1, 2008