Cherries lower gout attack risk by 35 percent alone and up to 75 percent if consumed while following standard gout treatment, says a new study.

Gout is a type of arthritis and is caused due to a buildup of uric acid in the blood, leading to hot, stiff, red and swollen joints.

About 8.3 million adults in the U.S. suffer from gout. Cherries help because they are known to have anti-urate and anti-inflammatory properties and so reduce some pain associated with gout.

The present study included approximately 633 people who were diagnosed with gout. The participants were asked about the onset of their gout, the medications that they were using and their lifestyle. They were asked if they ate cherries every day.

In the study group, about 35 percent ate fresh cherries; 2 percent used cherry extract and 5 percent consumed fresh fruit and cherry extract.

"Our findings indicate that consuming cherries or cherry extract lowers the risk of gout attack. The gout flare risk continued to decrease with increasing cherry consumption, up to three servings over two days," said Dr. Yuqing Zhang, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at Boston University and lead author of the study. Each serving was one half cup or 10 to 12 cherries.

Males are at a higher risk of gout, besides other factors such as drinking alcohol and eating foods with high levels of purines like liver and dried beans. Researchers found that the protective effect of cherries lasted even after accounting for all the risk factors.

Researchers of the study and authors of an accompanying editorial say that eating cherries should not replace gout treatment and that more studies are required to establish a link between cherry intake and gout.

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases states that to control gout people should:

  • Drink plenty of nonalcoholic beverages, especially water.
  • Exercise regularly but not opt for low-carb diets. Restricting carbohydrates will only increase uric acid in the blood and increase chances of gout attack
  • Avoid foods high in purines like beef kidneys, brains, anchovies, dried beans and peas, herrings, mackerels, sardines, sweetbreads, mushrooms, etc.
  • Inform the doctor about any other medication/ vitamins used.

The study was published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.