A tart cherry a day keeps the doctor away

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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Red tart cherries are more than just pie filling – recently they have been gaining great notoriety for their health benefits.

Taking whole fruit capsules containing cherries has been shown to provide relief from arthritis and joint pain, according to Bob Underwood, owner of Underwood Fruit.

For 25 years, Underwood and his wife, Janet, heard their farm market customers rave about how their aches and pains diminished after eating cherries and drinking their tart juice.

“I wasn’t ready for the rocking chair just yet,” said Bob. “So we worked for several more years and have come up with a convenient product that’s safe, effective and affordable.”

Their products. The Underwoods are self-styled farmers, turned innovators and now entrepreneurs. Owners of Underwood Fruit in northern Michigan, they use U.S.-grown red tart cherries and wild blueberries and convert them into whole fruit capsules, tablets and chewable wafers, called Cherry Rich and Blueberry Rich.

“As cherry growers for 40 years, we have long been convinced of the fruit’s health benefits, but it hasn’t been until recently that scientists could identify their properties of antioxidants and anthocyanins that are beneficial in alleviating pain and protecting against cancer, heart disease and other illnesses,” said Underwood.

Research confirms. Michigan State University research confirmed customer claims by finding 17 antioxidant compounds in red tart cherries, which have been found to fight disease-causing free radicals in the body.

Natural melatonin was identified in Cherry Rich by Russel Reiter, leading researcher at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Melatonin is believed to protect against cancer, improve cardiovascular health and regulate sleep patterns.

Many benefits. Wild blueberries have also tested high in anthocyanin and bioflavonoid levels and are being studied for their ability to reverse short-term memory loss, reduce eyestrain and may also reduce urinary tract infections.

“Science can now identify the DNA of fruits and vegetables and that’s exciting,” said Underwood. “It used to be an apple a day would work wonders. Now it’s a handful of tart cherries to take the pain away.”

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