There are many things to love about summer: warmer weather, longer days, and the arrival of cherries to local farmer’s markets and supermarkets. They are juicy, scrumptious, and happen to boast myriad health benefits. In fact, researchers say that people who eat cherries experience reduced cholesterol & blood pressure levels, improved sleep, decreased oxidative stress, and less inflammation. Keep reading to find out more about this sweet and tart summertime fruit.
What Are Cherries?
Obviously, a cherry is a fruit and there are two primary types: the sweet or wild cherry, and the sour cherry. Cherries are native to the Northern Hemisphere, and they are difficult to maintain, which explains their higher price tag per pound. They have a very short season, as they are only available from late-June to late-August. One cup of cherries meets 15% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, and it only amounts to 100 calories. Get your hands on them while they’re in season!
Health Benefits Of Cherries
They May Treat Gout
Commonly affecting the big toe, gout is an arthritic condition that results from uric acid accumulation in the body. When too much uric acid is in the body, uric acid crystals form in the joints and cause uncomfortable pain and limited mobility. According to a study that was published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, people with gout benefitted from consuming cherry extract. Of the 633 patients with gout, 35% experienced decreased gout attacks after taking cherry extract.
They May Improve Your Sleep
Several studies found that cherries, especially sweet cherries, are naturally rich in melatonin. Melatonin is necessary to experience restful sleep because it works to control your circadian rhythm and regulate sleep patterns. Consume a handful of cherries an hour or two before bed to improve sleep. You may also find that more melatonin in the body gets rid of irritability and headaches.
They Are Rich In Antioxidants
Antioxidants have many important roles in the body. The anthocyanins and cynanidan in cherries exhibit powerful anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, one study that was published in the Journal of Natural Products found that these antioxidants decreased inflammation better than aspirin. The anthocyanins from sour cherries help reduce inflammation, and preliminary studies show that they may inhibit the growth of human colon cancer cell lines. Finally, adding antioxidant-rich foods like cherries to your diet can decrease your risk of macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other conditions caused by oxidative stress.
They May Relieve Osteoarthritis
Cartilage in the joint acts as a cushion, preventing the bones from rubbing together. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage between the bones and joint wears down, eliminating that cushion between the bones. About 33 million American adults suffer from osteoarthritis, and they may benefit from consuming cherries. The Osteoarthritis Research Center examined 58 non-diabetic patients, who drank two eight-ounce servings of fresh sour cherry juice daily over a six-week period. The results indicated a decrease in WOMAC scores, and patients reported relief from osteoarthritis symptoms.
They Are Packed With Phytochemicals
Ellagic acid is a naturally occurring phytochemical that is present in sweet cherries. Several studies found that ellagic exhibits anti-cancer and antioxidant activity. Other studies found that the anti-cancer properties proved effective at inhibiting the growth of skin, colon, prostate, pancreas, and breast cancer cells. Ellagic acid binds to cancer-causing molecules and makes them inactive. If that’s not a reason to enjoy cherries, we don’t know what is!