Tart Cherries: Better than Aspirin for Inflammation

Ripe cherries in an iron mug on a dark blue wooden background. With copy space.

Cherries have amazing anti-inflammatory properties, but also quite a bit of sugar. The sweet stuff isn’t great for fighting histamine (or any other) inflammation. That’s where tart (or sour) cherry come in. Not only do they have all the inflammation and cancer fighting compounds as their sweeter cousins, but research tells us tart cherries are better anti-inflammatories than aspirin. 

Why write about inflammation rather than histamine?

I’ve been encouraging readers for years to look beyond histamine, which is just one of many inflammatory agents found in the body. These inflammatory molecules are kept from the bloodstream till needed for healing, but once they’re unleashed, if they’re not properly broken down, or if the inflammation just keeps going, we’re likely to have symptoms of excess inflammation. This includes the histamine symptoms we’re unfortunately all too familiar with. If you’re not, check out my posts on symptoms and how to get a diagnosis. So basically, what we want to do is lower inflammation as a whole, rather than just eliminating high histamine foods willy nilly. I explain how to do that here and you’ll find recipes full of foods with antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties my books Anti-Recipes and The Anti-Cookbook.

Are cherries high histamine? I’d have a nervous breakdown if I looked to the various histamine in foods lists on the internet. I see various posts on all stone fruit being high histamine (absolutely not in my own experience and that of most of my readers), and red fruits being higher. The answer is, it doesn’t matter what the lists say. Your doctor and your body are the ultimate authority, and removing foods for no other reason than it was on an internet list, leads nowhere good. It led me to starvation and orthorexia (a type of anorexia where food is demonised).

health benefits of tart cherries

I write quite a bit about how I believe we’ve made a mistake in the histamine community in just focusing on this one type of inflammation. There are so many other types, and so many foods and supplements that can help. Anything that can help empty out the inflammation bucket is worth a look.

  • Cherries address COX and prostaglandin inflammation
  • Can reduce cardiac inflammation and stroke risk
  • Anti-oxidants in tart cherries are more anti-inflammatory than aspirin
  • Have been shown to prevent tumour growth in animal studies
  • May help prevent dementia
  • Are high in melatonin, which can help regulate the sleep cycle
  • Can help treat arthritisNUTRIENTS

As far as sugar content goes, cherries aren’t on top of the list by any means. They have between 13 and 18 grams of sugar, and have a low glycemic index. Studies show they have incredible anti-inflammatory properties (but you can still be allergic to them or react if your inflammation bucket is full). Cherries are high in anthocyanins, the stuff that gives blueberries their colour, and are amazingly delicious. I eat my cherries and use a tart cherry powder (you can find many online).

  • High fiber content
  • Low-ish sugar (compared to other fruits)
  • Great source of vitamin C (which has antihistamine properties)
  • Anti-oxidants (these also help lower histamine inflammation


The Environmental Working Group has listed cherries as part of their “dirty dozen” foods that are most likely to contain pesticides. While I can’t buy everything organic, I do definitely follow this list. Frozen fruits and vegetables are often cheaper, and so I stock up either online or at Whole Foods 360 (their less expensive retail outlets).

You’ll find recipes full of foods with antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties my books Anti-Recipes and The Anti-Cookbook


Ewg. “EWG’s 2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.” EWG, www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php#.Wdg-MRNSyRs.

“Cyclooxygenase inhibitory and antioxidant cyanidin glycosides in cherries and berries.” Phytomedicine, Urban & Fischer, 10 Nov. 2004, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0944711304700525.

Babcock, Christine. “Benefits of Cherries: Weight Loss, Gout Healing & Less Inflammation.” Dr. Axe, 21 June 2017, draxe.com/benefits-of-cherries/.


Check out these other Healing Histamine blog posts


Yasmina was an award-winning broadcast journalist with a decade of experience covering war zones for CNN and the BBC. She devoted her journalism skills to researching and writing about histamine. Click here to learn about her. Each post is carefully and fully referenced with the latest scientific research. Not sure where to start? Here’s a four week meal plan and overall Histamine Reset.

4 Week Histamine Reset

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