Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that can increase a person's likelihood of developing cardiovascular complications. Healthcare professionals agree that the following are risk factors for metabolic syndrome: high blood pressure, insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, excessive fatty acids and insufficient good cholesterol. Other risk factors to consider are age, family history of metabolic syndrome and physical fitness. (Related: Adolescents with low muscle mass at risk of developing metabolic syndrome.)
In the U.S. alone, about 23 percent of adults are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. However, while healthcare professionals note that having just one of the risk factors does not automatically lead to a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, each factor does increase a person's risk of developing health complications in the long run. In particular, two of the most important risk factors to look out for are obesity and insulin resistance. If left unchecked, obesity could lead to serious conditions such as heart attack and stroke. On the other hand, insulin resistance – marked by high blood sugar levels – makes it difficult for the body to process sugar. Insulin resistance often results in Type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and eye damage.
The researchers observed 11 participants with metabolic syndrome. The participants had to fulfill certain criteria that indicated the possibility of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Some of these markers included waist circumference, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, among others. The participants were given tart cherry juice, tart cherry capsules and a placebo drink. The team then monitored the effects of the juice, capsules and placebo on the participants over the span of six weeks.
The researchers found that consumption of tart cherry juice and supplements significantly reduced blood pressure and insulin levels in the participants. Consumption of tart cherries in either juice or capsule form also helped reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. The study, published in Journal of Functional Foods, proved for the first time that tart cherries could reduce high levels of insulin in the body, a cardiometabolic marker linked to obesity and excessive glucose in the blood. As such, the researchers recommended that tart cherries be considered for the treatment of isolated systolic hypertension and metabolic syndrome.
According to lead author Terun Desai, adults diagnosed with metabolic syndrome can benefit from incorporating tart cherries into their diet.
Physicians often prescribe synthetic drugs to patients who suffer from cardiovascular complications. However, these medications often cause undesirable side effects.
On the other hand, following a healthy diet and maintaining an active lifestyle helps reduce the risk of serious health problems. Additionally, as the Hertfordshire study showed, tart cherry could also be instrumental in treating metabolic syndrome.
Montmorency tart cherries are not only nutritious, they also do great things for your health. Add this superfood to your diet to reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome.