SOURCE: Cherry Marketing Institute

January 09, 2008 09:09 ET

Celebrate American Heart Month by Eating Red

Science Suggests Red Foods, Like Tart Cherries, May Help Protect Your Heart

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - January 9, 2008) - "Go red" or "wear red" have become universal mantras for promoting heart-health during February, American Heart Month. But health and nutrition experts say we should also be eating red to protect our hearts. Americans are encouraged to discover the power of eating heart-healthy red foods during the first-ever National Eat Red Week, Feb. 4-10.

Why eat red? Science suggests the pigments that make up the red color in many fruits and vegetables, like tart cherries and tomatoes, are powerful disease-fighting antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation associated with atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries and reduce certain risk factors for heart disease.

A recent study from the University of Michigan(1) revealed that cherry-enriched diets in animals lowered total blood cholesterol levels and reduced triglycerides (fatty acids), major risk factors for heart disease. With more than 80 million Americans living every day with some form of heart disease, scientists are increasingly studying the heart health impact of the foods we eat.

"We've always known fruits and vegetables were 'healthy,' but now we're beginning to better understand precisely why," said Dr. Steven F. Bolling, a cardiac surgeon at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center who also heads the U-M Cardioprotection Research Laboratory. "Researchers are uncovering the unique potential for plant compounds, like those in cherries, to affect multiple heart health factors. For cherries, we're learning the benefits may come from effects on both cholesterol levels and inflammation."

Dried cherries are certified by the American Heart Association. To help raise funds in support of the American Heart Association's mission, for every person who visits www.choosecherries.com to learn more about the heart-health benefits of cherries, a donation will be made in their name (up to $5,000).

Cherries: One of Today's Hottest "Super Fruits"

Cherries are being hailed by nutrition leaders as one of today's hottest "Super Fruits." According to Doctor of Public Health, registered dietitian and author of the newest edition of "The SuperFoodsRx™" series, "The SuperFoodsRx Diet: Lose Weight with the Power of SuperNutrients," Dr. Wendy Bazilian, cherries have quite an untold story.

"Most people don't realize tart cherries are loaded with antioxidants, as many as blueberries in fact, and are linked to many potential health benefits including reducing risk factors for heart disease," said Dr. Bazilian. "What's especially great about these cherries is that they're available year-round as dried, frozen and juice. And, they're versatile enough for just about every eating occasion from breakfast to snacks to salads."

That's good news for those seeking foods with health promoting properties. A recent survey revealed most respondents would prefer to eat or drink foods with health promoting properties, with heart-health topping the list, if they knew it could potentially limit the amount of medication they needed to take(2).

Science suggests tart cherries may have potential health benefits including reducing pain related to arthritis and gout. Cherries are also one of the few food sources of melatonin, a potent antioxidant that may help improve the body's natural sleep patterns and aid with jet lag. To learn more about cherries visit www.choosecherries.com to view The Cherry Nutrition Report, the first compendium of peer-reviewed studies on the benefits of cherries.

You also can find new cherry recipes, menu ideas and more information on where you can buy red tart cherry products.

The Cherry Marketing Institute (CMI) is an organization funded by North American tart cherry growers and processors. CMI's mission is to increase the demand for tart cherries through promotion, market expansion, product development and research. For more information on the science supporting the unique health benefits of cherries and for cherry recipes and menu ideas, visit www.choosecherries.com.

(1) Seymour EM, Singer AAM, Bennink MR, Bolling SF. Cherry-enriched diets
    reduce metabolic syndrome and oxidative stress in lean Dahl-SS rats.
    Experimental Biology 2007 225.8, Presented in minisymposium 225,
    Dietary Bioactive Compounds: Chronic Disease Risk Reduction.

(2) Survey of 1,517 adults age 45 and older, conducted by Opinion Research
    Corporation's Caravan Services, November 2007, on behalf of the Cherry
    Marketing Institute.

Contact Information