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Gout and arthritis have two things in common. Each condition makes the body hurt, and they respond to the powerful nutrients found in cherries that eliminate pain. Cherries contain high levels of antioxidants and anthocyanins, nutrients known to relieve pain, inflammation and stiffness. Cherries belong to an esteemed group of super fruits including blueberries, acai, pomegranate, yumberries, cranberries and goji berries -- all providing exceptionally high amounts of these pain-killing compounds. Cherries are rich in polynutrients and anthocyanins, which give the fruit its rich, reddish-purple color -- the deeper the color, the higher the level of antioxidants.

Raw or Cooked
Whether they're raw or cooked, cherries in any form contain the same anti-inflammatory substances, according to the University of Michigan Health System. They reported that people consuming about 1/2 pound of cherries daily over a period of four weeks noticed significant joint pain relief. To be sure of getting the most from cooked cherries, include the cooking juices.

Count canned cherries in when including cherries in a regime of pain-relieving foods. The University of Michigan also included canned cherries in its review for helping to relieve aches and pains associated with musculoskeletal conditions. Keeping a couple of cans of tart cherries in the pantry ensures there will always be something in the house in the event supplies of other cherry products run low. This does not include maraschino, whose natural chemical makeup has been altered by preserving and adding sugar.

Some people swear by the healing effects of drinking tart cherry juice. Tart cherries are thought by some to have the greatest pain-killing power, and Montmorency cherries are considered the most popular sour cherry. Tart cherries are also rich in potassium, which may help the body create an alkaline-forming state, and protect against acidosis, which is a breeding ground for the formation of disease. Drinking six ounces of tart cherry juice daily is the approximate equivalent to 1/2 pound of raw or cooked cherries. Cherry juice can be diluted with water. Mixing black cherry juice and tart cherry juice provides sweetness, making the drink more palatable for some people.

Taking cherry powder provides a quick, portable, easy way to utilize the benefits of cherries. An animal study funded by the Cherry Marketing Institute in 2008 indicated that rats receiving dried cherry powder had greatly reduced levels of inflammation in their bodies. Additionally, when the cherry powder was fed mixed with a high-fat diet, the rats didn't build body fat or gain weight at the same rate as control animals.

Cherry concentrate is simply cherry juice with the excess water removed. It provides a super-punch of pain-relieving nutrients. As little as two ounces a day diluted with water may offer relief for aching joints and muscles and relieve the agonizing pain of gout. Look for organic cherry concentrate to ensure the absence of pesticides and other chemicals.

A variety of supplements contain cherries including capsules, liquid extracts, and snack bars. Cherry supplements may not cure arthritis and gout, but like fresh and cooked cherries and cherry juice, they too offer another way to consume the important chemicals that provide relief for those suffering in pain. Some supplements contain high levels of quercetin and vitamin C as well as antioxidants and anthocyanins. A common daily dose of cherry extract is 2,000 mg divided into four doses throughout the day; however, it's best to consult a health practitioner before taking unfamiliar supplements.

In one Finnish study of more than 2,000 individuals, researchers found that stored iron was more strongly linked to heart attack risk than either high blood pressure or high cholesterol. It is believed that women who menstruate regularly are less likely to experience heart attacks because iron levels are reduced by the loss of blood each month. The same line of logic explains why men who donate blood regularly also experience fewer heart attacks.

High levels of iron are linked to more than just heart attack risk:

- One study showed that iron supplementation disrupted the balance of gut flora in children. Children who were given iron supplements showed an increase in harmful bacteria and a decrease in beneficial bacteria.

- Research indicates that lower levels of iron can actually be protective against infectious disease, leukemia and lymphatic cancers.

- Other studies demonstrate that iron produces free radicals which accelerate the aging process.

It is easy to see why high iron is a common problem these days, when you consider that the modern diet is heavy in muscle meats and countless foods which contain added iron. Typical staples in the American diet - such as breads, pastas and cereals - are required by federal law to be enriched with added iron. In addition, iron is also present in many multivitamin and mineral supplements.

A common misconception is that anemia is directly linked to iron deficiency, so iron supplements are often the first line of defense when anemia is suspected. However, anemia can be caused by other factors as well, such as reduced thyroid function and vitamin B12 deficiency. Supplementing iron in these cases is unnecessary and can exacerbate the problem by not treating the true underlying issue.

It is far more logical to recommend iron supplementation only when tests show an actual deficiency in iron. Using hemoglobin or red blood cell tests to determine iron deficiency may not only be inaccurate, but could be harmful if iron supplementation is given when it is not needed. Even when a true iron deficiency exists, it is safer to eat foods naturally high in iron than rely on supplements.