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Cherries vs Gout

Cherries vs Gout

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I sit here about to write this, feeling quite full having just returned from a lovely Christmas party at my colleague's home with family and friends.

They put on a wonderful feast, serving up the freshest prawns, most succulent pork belly, and the sweetest of deserts. I cleverly chose to wash all these wonderful delights down with cold crisp Japanese beer and a whole lot of cheer.   It was truly a wonderful evening.

However, at this point I breathe a huge sigh of relief that I don’t YET count myself amongst our poor brethren who suffer with gout, as my choice of words thus far would likely have been very different.

I have previously written about the risks of having an attack of gout in relation to the foods we eat, with foods high in purines (such as beer, crustaceans, and red meats) being most often implicated. As a result, for some, the festive season soon becomes the misery slum as the pain and swelling ensues.

So it is with pleasure that instead today I write about a food that may actually help prevent an attack of gout!!

And the great thing is that it is currently in season here in Australia and is absolutely delicious!!!

I suppose you can guess from the title of this edition that I’m referring to CHERRIES.

The idea that cherries may help in gout has been talked about for some time with the reasons being that cherries:

  1. Reduce uric acid levels
  2. Possess anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties 

Consequently, it has been speculated that Cherries may reduce the risk of flares and lessen the pain associated with such attacks.

To give proof to these beliefs, a group of researchers, including an Australian (Prof David Hunter), performed a case-crossover study following over 600 people with gout for 12 months.   What they found was very interesting.

They reported that:

  1. Fresh Cherry intake over a 2-day period was associated with a 35% lower risk of an attack compared to no cherry intake (OR=0.65; 95% CI 0.5-0.85)
  2. Three or more servings of cherries over those 2 days were associated with the greatest reduction of risk.
  3. Consumption of Cherry extract (an available commercial concentrate) was associated with a 45% reduction in risk, similar to that achieved with fresh cherries.  
  4. When Cherry intake is combined with Allopurinol (a medication which lowers uric acid levels) the risk of an attack of gout reduces by 75% compared to the same period without either exposure.
  5. The benefit persisted irrespective of gender, ethnicity, BMI, education level, diet, or alcohol use.

So therefore, as I look forward to the further feasts to come, I’ve made sure that together with the gifts I find myself buying, I make a B-line for the fresh fruit isle and grab myself a few boxes of that velvet delight – CHERRIES!!

References: Zhang et al. Cherry Consumption and the risk of Recurrent Gout Attacks. Arthritis Rheum 2013; 64(12): 4004-4011

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