Benefits of Michigan Cherries + Delicious Recipes 

Shanthi Appelo
Shanthi Appelo

| 3 min read

Cherry salad
Since the first commercial cherry orchard was planted in the late 1800s, Michigan’s cherry growing quickly grew popular. Today, Michigan is the top producer of tart cherries and the fourth largest producer of sweet cherries in the United States. An average tree carries a remarkable 7,000 cherries and can be harvested in just seven seconds – but that’s not the only impressive quality.
Tart cherries, more so than sweet cherries, are known for providing a slew of health benefits. Boasting an impressive list of antioxidants, cherries can aid in inflammatory diseases such as heart disease and arthritis. But let’s explore some of the lesser-known health benefits.
  • SleepStudies suggest tart and sweet cherries may help with both the quantity and quality of sleep with immediate effects – within three days. Reasons for improved sleep are thought to be related to improved mood and decreased anxiety. Another study found that tart cherries may increase melatonin, a critical hormone that regulates sleep.
  • Cognitive function. Research suggests cherries could “juice up” the brain. Anthocyanins are not only responsible for giving cherries their dark-red color, but also supplies the fruit with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers. This compound, along with other antioxidants in the fruit, shows promise in delivering short- and long-term benefits in age-related cognitive decline. Anthocyanins have a positive role in the pathways involved in neurodegeneration, or the loss of function of the nervous system.
  • Recovery after exercise. Tart cherries have shown promise in helping athletes recover after strenuous activity. The reasons can be attributed to the recovery of muscle function, reduced muscle loss and less inflammation. Athletes can enjoy a cup of tart cherry juice within 30 minutes after exercise along with a post-workout snack.
Convinced about the nutritious power of this ruby-red fruit? Cherries are versatile and easy to incorporate in a variety of dishes – add them to anything from barbecue sauce to overnight oats. Moreover, cherries go great with chocolate, almonds, goat cheese, lemon and thyme – all ingredients in the following recipes.
This summery salad brings a savory-sweet kick with a homemade lemon thyme vinaigrette, crumbled goat cheese, slivered almonds and one cup of fresh cherries. Shake it up in a mason jar and it's ready to serve.
This fast and easy smoothie comes together quickly in the blender using frozen cherries, cocoa powder, almond butter and almond milk. For a higher-protein twist, consider substituting the cocoa powder with a scoop of chocolate protein powder.
Overnight oats are a perfect breakfast for those rush-out-the-door mornings. Prepare this recipe a night or two ahead and you’re ready to take on a busy day.
This vegan ice cream recipe features seasonal Michigan cherries and dark chocolate. And it’s easy to whip up a fresh batch. All you need is a few ingredients, a blender and a plastic bag.

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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