Health Benefits of Cherries
Cherries are a delicious fruit that come in quite a few different varieties. They are often enjoyed raw, put in fruit salads, jams, and of course, on top of an ice cream sundae. In addition to tasting great, they can also provide you with many different health benefits. These benefits are on top of the nutritional value, which includes a good amount of fiber, protein, vitamin A and vitamin C in each serving. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant health benefits of cherries.
Excellent Source of Antioxidants
Tart cherries (also known as sour cherries) are an excellent source of antioxidants. One recent study that was conducted by the University of Michigan discovered that the antioxidants from these cherries transfer well into the human bloodstream, which boosts overall antioxidant activity. The antioxidant activity lasted for up to 12 hours after consuming the cherries, which is quite significant.
May Provide Relief from Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
The antioxidants mentioned in the previous paragraph have been shown to have a direct link to reducing the overall levels of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a compound that has been shown to cause and exacerbate osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Adding cherries to your daily diet is a great option for those who suffer from these conditions.
A study conducted at Boston University found that there was a relationship between the amount of cherries people ate and the risk of having gout attacks, also, when patients did get gout attacks they were less severe and didn’t last as long. Consuming cherries for just two days was shown to lower the risk of gout attacks by 35%. It is believed that these benefits come from the cherry’s high ORAC value. The ORAC value helps to reduce circulating factors that are linked to inflammation.
Reduce Diabetic Blood Sugar Levels
While cherries do have natural sugar in them, they have been shown to contribute to reducing blood sugar levels in people who have diabetes. This is because of the antioxidant, known as anthocyanin (which is what provides cherries with their color). While further study is needed, research from Michigan State University found that this specific type of antioxidant increased natural insulin production by 50% in animals. So far there haven’t been human studies, but it appears that the benefits will be there for people too. One important point to mention here is that some cherries are ‘candied’ and have lots of added sugar. These types of cherries are not recommended for people with diabetes.
Reduce the Risk of Colon Cancer
The American Institute for Cancer Research has done extensive studies on the benefits of dietary fiber for reducing the risk of colon cancer. Cherries are high in this type of fiber, so there is a clear link. In addition to that benefit, there was a study conducted that gave tart cherries to mice as well as human colon cancer cells. The study found that the mice with these cherries in their diet had far fewer tumors compared to the mice who only received a control diet. There were also benefits for stopping the growth of colon cancer in humans shown in the study.
Improve Your Memory and Motor Function
A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience has found that the nutrients in cherries can contribute to improving memory and motor function. The study was specifically done on rats, but it is an early indication that humans can also get this type of benefit from adding cherries to their diet. Of course, additional research is needed in this area.
Ease Recovery After a Hard Workout
If you enjoy lifting weights, running or most any other type of exercise, you undoubtedly know all about the soreness that often comes after a hard workout. If you’d like to reduce this type of post-exercise discomfort, you may want to turn to cherries. Studies have shown that just one and a half cups of tart cherries (or a cup of cherry juice) can help to reduce muscle inflammation. This will, of course, contribute to reducing the overall soreness and also allow your muscles to heal more quickly. The research suggests consuming the cherries or cherry juice directly after a workout for optimal results.
Get a Great Night’s Sleep
Millions of people struggle to get enough sleep at night because they are extremely busy. Even when they can get into bed, many toss and turn for hours, so they don’t get the rest their body needs. There are many causes of sleep trouble, and one solution that may help is consuming cherries or drinking cherry juice. A study had participants drink 30 ml of cherry juice about thirty minutes after getting out of bed and 30 minutes before the last meal of the day. Those in the study were found to have more total sleep time significantly, and the ‘sleep efficiency’ was also dramatically improved. Researchers believe that this is because cherries contain melatonin, and the amount added in the study worked out to be about 85mcg per day.
Adding Cherries to Your Diet
As you can see, there are many health benefits of cherries that you can take advantage of. Unlike many other healthy foods, you shouldn’t have any trouble adding this fruit to your diet. Cherries are widely available as fresh fruit throughout much of the year, and they also can and freeze quite well so you can always get them when you want them. On top of that, 100% cherry juice contains virtually all of the health benefits of whole cherries. So, next time you go shopping makes sure you pick up some cherries and start enjoying all the great health benefits.