They are fresh, plentiful, beautiful and delicious, but you may be wondering - are cherries really that good for you? The answer is yes, 100 times yes! Cherries are not only one of the healthiest fruits, they are also ranked as one of the most healthy foods in general. One cup, or about 21 cherries, contains less than 100 calories and 15% of your daily vitamin C needs. But here are seven more reasons why this stone fruit is a nutritious all-star and easy way to eat more cherries all year round.
Cherries are full of antioxidants
Cherries are a potent source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. These cellular bodyguards slow down aging and ward off chronic diseases - including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes and obesity.
They protect against diabetes
The anti-inflammatory effect of cherries helps keep your body healthy; but in addition, cherries are ranked lower than many fruits on the glycemic index. This means that they do not trigger spikes and crashes in your blood sugar and insulin levels. This makes them both protective against diabetes and important for managing the condition if you already have it.
They promote healthy sleep
Particularly sour cherries are one of the few food sources for melatonin, a hormone that helps you control your sleep-wake cycles. A study of men and women with insomnia found that compared to placebo, eight ounces of sour cherry juice increased in the morning and again one to two hours before bedtime by one hour and 24 minutes.
They can provide osteoarthritis relief
Several studies have suggested that the consumption of cherries is beneficial for osteoarthritis. Regularly incorporating cherries or 100% cherry juice into your meal or snack can help reduce your joint pain.
They reduce the risk of gout attacks
This inflammatory arthritis is triggered when a waste product called uric acid crystallizes in the joints, causing incredible pain and swelling. In one study, gout patients who consumed cherries for only two days (both fresh fruit, as well as cherry extract and juice) showed a 35% lower risk of gout attacks compared to those who did not eat cherries.
They lower cholesterol
Research has shown that drinking cherry juice can help lower total cholesterol, including the "bad" type, known as LDL. This is important because every 1% reduction in cholesterol reduces the risk of heart disease by 2%. And a high LDL is especially worrying in relation to the risk of heart attack.
They reduce the pain after exercise
In other words, cherries can make that tenderness after HIIT training less intense. They also protect against cellular wear and tear from exercise and help support muscle recovery. For this reason, sour cherry juice is popular among professional and competitive athletes. But it can help anyone who is regularly active.
How to maximize the health benefits of cherries
There is nothing like a bowl of fresh cherries. But it is not the only way to embrace their nutritional benefits. Look for frozen cherries, freeze-dried powders, 100% sour cherry juice and preservation-free dried cherries.
Whisk frozen cherries or powder into smoothies, or add oats overnight.
Stir chopped dried cherries into peanut butter or melted dark chocolate or sprinkle on salads and cooked vegetables.
Add sour cherry juice to sparkling water. Or drink it right away if you are struggling with sleep or want to benefit from exercise recovery.
Making cherries and cherry products an important part of your diet is a small shift that can snowball into major health benefits.