Health Benefits of Cherries
| 3 min read
Summer in Michigan means there is a buffet of delicious fruits at our fingertips. Farmers markets, the produce section at your local grocery store and even the roadside stands that dot our growing regions are overflowing with berries, peaches – and gorgeous cherries. Whether you like them sweet or tart, these jewel-colored fruits are delicious to eat fresh and can be used dried or frozen year-round. But if your relationship with cherries can best be described as a couple slices of cherry pie and a few occasional handfuls of fresh cherries throughout the year, it might be time for you to up your nutritional game with these little gems. Here’s a quick look at the health benefits of cherries.
Despite their petite size, cherries offer a mountain of health benefits. Eating them whole gives your body a burst of vitamins and those all-important antioxidants. But there’s also been a trend toward concentrated cherry juice as a year-round health drink. Here are some cherry highlights to remember:
Cherries protect your heart
Move over, bananas. It turns out that cherries have lots of potassium, which is important to keeping our hearts healthy. Just a cup of fresh sweet cherries will give you about 10% of your daily recommended amount of potassium, according to this study. This essential mineral is needed to regulate our heartbeat, our blood pressure, and even help our body get rid of too much sodium. In this way, cherries can help keep the heart healthy and help protect it from heart disease.
Cherries are packed with not only antioxidant compounds that can help protect and repair our cells, but these fruits also have anti-inflammatory properties that help protect our bodies from chronic disease. When it comes to these good-for-your compounds, research has shown that tart cherries have a slight edge over their sweet cousins. This is good for year-round cherry eaters, as it’s been shown that these disease-fighting properties stay with the cherries whether they are dried, frozen or otherwise processed.
A cup of pitted cherries can provide a quick, healthy boost to your daily diet, research shows. Let’s say you snag a couple handfuls of sweet cherries – and carefully avoid the hard little pits. (There is a reason these are called stone fruits!) Here’s what you are giving your body:
- 2 grams of protein
- 3 grams of fiber
- 18% of your daily value of Vitamin C
- 10% of your daily value of potassium
- About 100 calories
Why are elite long-distance runners and cyclists reaching for tart cherry juice or cherry products when they’re done with a training session? Studies have shown the plant compounds, especially in tart cherries, may help ease muscle pain after workouts and also reduce any inflammation. Cyclists and marathoners were looked at specifically, but these results would also apply to anyone who does tough workouts and wants to help their muscles recover faster.
Cherries may also help you get a more restful sleep. It’s largely because they contain melatonin, a substance that helps your body regulate its daily wake/sleep cycle. A small randomized controlled trial showed that drinking tart cherry juice increases the body’s melatonin levels and offers not only longer sleep times, but better quality sleep.
So if you’re looking for an easy, delicious health boost, these little fruits might be the cherry on top of your meal prep list.
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