According to the findings of a new study out today (30 April), increased consumption of cherries may lower the risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.

The study, being presented at the Experimental Biology annual meeting by University of Michigan researchers, found that cherry-enriched diets significantly lowered total cholesterol levels, triglycerides, insulin and fasting glucose levels. All of these factors have been linked to metabolic syndrome.

"Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of traits that can greatly increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes, so it's a serious condition that significantly affects public health," said study co-author Dr Steven F. Bolling.

"Lifestyle changes have been shown to lower the odds of developing metabolic syndrome, and there is tremendous interest in studying the impact of particular foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as cherries," he concluded.

The study also linked cherry consumption to levels of a plasma marker of oxidative damage and increased blood antioxidant capacity. Cherry enriched diets were also found to reduce the accumulation of triglycerides and cholesterol in the liver.

Previous studies have shown that the compounds in cherries may offer protection against heart disease due to enhancements in blood vessel health.