Principal study investigator Dr. Kerry Kuehl of Oregon Health & Science University said the study involved 20 women ages 40 to 70 with inflammatory osteoarthritis and debilitating joint pain.
The study found that drinking tart cherry juice twice daily for three weeks led to significant reductions in important inflammation markers -- especially for women who had the highest inflammation levels at the beginning of the study.
Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis often characterized as "wear and tear" arthritis, is commonly found in athletes, Kuehl said.
Along with providing the fruit's bright red color, the antioxidant compounds in tart cherries -- anthocyanins -- have been specifically linked to high antioxidant capacity and reduced inflammation, at levels comparable to some pain medications, Kuehl said.
The findings were presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference in San Francisco.