Have you ever picked a cherry and tasted it straight from the tree? Just like any other produce, it’s always best fresh-picked.
So during cherry season where you live, even if you can’t pick them yourself, your local market will have a plentiful supply!
Here’s a cool fact too…cherries are normally mentioned with other berries, like blueberries, but they’re really not berries at all.
They are called “drupes,” and are related to plums, almonds and olives: “a fleshy fruit with thin skin and a central stone containing the seed.”
Here are 7 healthy reasons why cherries are a great choice to include in our meal plans:
1- Good source of dietary fiber
If you try to eat healthy, you’re always looking for ways to add more fiber into your diet. Getting enough fiber is important for both weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. It helps regulate cholesterol levels, and helps reduce the risk of things like diabetes and heart disease.
Plus we’ve heard of the innumerable benefits of a plant-based diet…getting your “roughage”!
Cherries are a pleasant way to help keep your digestive system clean, and contribute to a “regular” schedule.
2- Full of anti-inflammatory compounds
You might be shocked to learn how much inflammation is inside your body that can’t be seen from the outside.
And it’s not necessarily caused by an infection or injury; it can be caused by the foods you eat, such as sugar, processed items, high-fructose corn syrup, and more.
Healthline.com mentions, “Many studies show that cherries help inhibit oxidative stress and decrease inflammation by suppressing inflammatory proteins, which can help reduce symptoms related to arthritis.”
3- Low glycemic index
The glycemic index (GI) “measures the effect that carbohydrate-containing food has on blood sugar levels.” (health.usnews.com) The lower the GI, the less the item will spike your blood sugar (which is a bad experience for anyone, especially those with diabetes.)
Out of all fruit on the planet, cherries are among those with the lowest GI score, at 22. Any score under 55 is considered low.
To be clear, cherries do not lower blood sugar; rather, they help keep it controlled, both by their low GI, and by their anthocyanin content, which helps to boost insulin.
4- Source of melatonin
Melatonin, a hormone produced in the brain, has become more popular in recent years for one main reason: to regulate sleep. Since we are exposed to more blue light than ever before, and are using artificial light sources at night, our natural melatonin production is off kilter.
Our lack of natural darkness means our body’s natural melatonin is not produced as it should be. So since cherries contain melatonin, eating them for your evening snack can help you get a good night’s sleep. Also, if you are a traveler, cherries can help in the same way in fighting jet lag.
5- Support post-workout recovery
Get this: Plants contain polyphenols, cherries are plants, so cherries contain polyphenols! This means that cherries (especially tart varieties) can help you to recover after your workouts to reduce muscle pain and weakness.
This is another benefit of cherries’ anti-inflammatory compounds, literally blocking inflammation while at the same time, preventing damage to muscles.
6- High in vitamin C
One little cherry contains vitamins like A, C and K; minerals and other nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Have you heard of beta-carotene or choline? They have both of those too. One cup of cherries has 25% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C!
Getting enough vitamin C is essential for your body in every way, including for fighting chronic disease, managing blood pressure, preventing iron deficiency, boosting immunity, and protecting your memory and clear thought processes…to name a few.
7- Can help alleviate gout pain
Gout is no joke. It is painful and can disrupt your life. It is caused by an overabundance of uric acid in the body, triggered by foods such as red meats, sugary sodas, and alcohol. But by sticking to a healthy diet of fruits like cherries, vegetables and whole grains, this may help prevent attacks of gout.
Healthline.com continues about cherries, “ …they can decrease uric acid levels in your body, making them especially beneficial for those with gout.” The vitamin C content in cherries may also help to reduce the risk of gout.
If you’re not able to find fresh cherries, frozen is a great substitute. If you opt for drinking cherry juice, look for one with no added sugar (which could counteract all of the amazing benefits!)
This is just the shortlist… the health benefits from eating cherries are really endless!
We are health and fitness professionals, but we are not doctors. So please consult with a medical professional before following our advice.