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The Health Benefits of Cherries

Adults and children alike, cherries seem to be everyone’s favorite fruit. Or, if not your favorite, then at least in your top five favorite fruits. They are red, sweet, easy to eat, and a great representation of summertime. Comfortable, relaxed living may be sitting by the pool, bowl of cherries in hand. The paint a beautiful picture, right? They also could probably literally paint one. Cherries are known for staining something terrible! They stain your fingers as you eat them and your clothes should you drop one. But that shouldn’t stop any of us. Because the truth is that cherries are delicious and nutritious! 

What are cherries?

Cherries are considered to be small stone fruits. Similar to and in the same family as apricots, peaches, and plums. Cherries are categorized into two different types: sweet cherries and sour cherries. And although there are over five hundred varieties of cherries that grow, only about fifteen are popular in North America. The leader is, of course, the Bing Cherry. This is the largest, sweet cherry with a dark-skinned exterior that seems almost black. The inside is a deep purple and has an unmistakable addictive taste. Another well-known type is the Rainier cherry. This one has a yellow-rose exterior and is actually even sweeter than the Bing cherry. Some types are best eaten fresh, but there many others that are choices when it comes to pie fillings, frozen or canned cherries. 

What can cherries do for you?

Not only are cherries one of our favorite fruits, they are also packed with all kinds of “good for you” reasons to eat them. Think vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds! There’s a very good reason why they are listed as a Superfood! 

7 Health Benefits of Eating Cherries

  1. Cherries Contain Tons of Nutrients
  2. Cherries Are Rich in Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatories
  3. Cherries Can Boost Exercise Recovery
  4. Cherries Have Been Known to Benefit Heart Health
  5. Cherries Have Been Known to Improve Symptoms of Arthritis and Gout
  6. Cherries Can Improve Your Sleep Quality
  7. Cherries Are Versatile and Easy to Add to Your Diet 

These are seven fantastic benefits, but let’s dive in and learn more about them.

  • Cherries Contain Tons of Nutrients

The official names of the two types of cherry groups are Prunus cerasus L. and Prunus avium L. These two groups represent both the tart and the sweet cherries. All cherries, no matter the type or color, are packed with a ton of nutritious elements. They have fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and minimal calories! All of this makes cherries a very nutritious and delicious snack choice. 

One cup (154 grams) of sweet, fresh cherries can give you the following:

  • Calories: 97
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Carbs: 25 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Vitamin C: 18% of the Daily Value
  • Potassium: 10% of the Daily Value
  • Copper: 5% of the Daily Value
  • Manganese: 5% of the Daily Value

These numbers, especially the Vitamin C levels, are high for maintaining a healthy immune system and skin health. Others like potassium are used for muscle and nerve function, regulating the blood pressure and other bodily functions. The fiber in cherries helps to keep your digestive system healthy and working well. It fuels good gut bacteria and enables regularity. Other nutrients not listed here are Vitamin B and K, as well as magnesium. All these together help the body to function at optimal levels.

  • Cherries are Rich in Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatories

There are many plant compounds in cherries, and the exceptionally high concentration of these could be the reason that cherries offer so many health benefits. Each type of cherry will have different amounts, but all are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory plant compounds. 

The ability to combat oxidative stress is one of the reasons cherries are considered a superfood. Oxidative stress comes from free radicals, which in turn cause disease and aging. Cherries have been found to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in almost every study that has been done to date. The plant chemical that permeates cherries is polyphenols. These have been proven in man studies to combat cellular damage, reduce inflammation, and provide better overall health. 

Even when it comes to chronic conditions, polyphenols can help. In the case of heart disease, cancer, and even brain decline. Cherries have the polyphenols that can help.  

The distinctive color of cherries is much more than just a cosmetic advantage. They contain carotenoid pigments such as beta-carotene and Vitamin C. Both of these are known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits.

  •  Cherries Can Boost Exercise Recovery

Because of all their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, cherries can also help with relieving workout induced sore muscles. With aching muscles comes minuscule muscle tears and damage as well as inflammation. Tart cherries, in particular, have been known to be more effective than sweet cherries in this instance. In fact, in athletic circles, tart cherry juice is known to help accelerate muscle recovery. In particular, with distance athletes such as marathon runners, triathletes and cyclists have all benefitted from tart cherry juice. Some even feel that it enhances their performance abilities. Despite all this research being focused on professional athletes, cherries and cherry juice can definitely still be beneficial to amateur and recreational athletes as well. It is even possible to get tart cherry juice in powder form that can be added to shakes and smoothies. This is an easy way to get all this goodness and feel the physical benefits during and after your workout. 

  • Cherries Have Been Known to Benefit Heart Health

Eating more cherries can increase the nutrients in your body and protect your heart. Heart disease is one of the most common conditions in today’s world. However, many studies have shown that nutrient-dense fruits such as cherries, can help reduce the risks associated with heart disease. 

The plant compounds in cherries that promote heart health are things like potassium and polyphenols antioxidants. They both help to ensure a regular heartbeat and remove sodium from the body. By eliminating the excess sodium, your blood pressure is much more regulated, which is excellent for heart health. It has also been proven that higher amounts of potassium in the body are directly related to lower instances of heart disease and strokes. 

Antioxidants such as anthocyanins, flavanols, and catechins are all polyphenol antioxidants that work together to help protect the heart against cellular damage and reduce inflammation. 

  • Cherries Have Been Known to Improve Symptoms of Arthritis and Gout

    Because of how much cherries are packed with anti-inflammatories, they have the potential to improve symptoms of inflammation-based diseases such as gout and arthritis. Gout is a specific type of arthritis that is caused by the buildup of uric acid. The symptoms include swelling, inflammation, and pain often in the feet and legs and around the joints. When the antioxidant properties in the cherries help combat oxidative stress, they thereby decrease the inflammation. This, in turn, will disable those proteins that cause inflammation and reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of arthritis. 

    • Cherries Can Improve Your Sleep Quality

      So many people have issues with insomnia. Getting to sleep seems to be harder than ever nowadays. However, cherries can help! Either eating cherries or even drinking cherry juice both have significant benefits when it comes to sleep. Once again, we go back to those plant compounds. All the goodness in there is excellent for sleep; however, the magic ingredient is the melatonin. Cherries contain quite a bit of melatonin. Melatonin is a substance that helps to regulate your sleep cycles. It is a hormone that your body releases when it’s time to wind down and get to sleep. The fact that cherries have some in there will help those who need that extra little bit of help when it’s time for lights out. The best way to see the effects of this is to use concentrated cherry products such as a powder or pill form. If you were just planning on eating fresh cherries before bed, you might not see the same results. You’d have to eat way more cherries than your stomach could handle! 

      • Cherries Are Versatile and Easy to Add to Your Diet

        This is really just a no-brainer. Cherries are delicious and easy to obtain and totally worth it on the healthy side as they are packed with all kinds of vitamins and minerals, as well as plant compounds that have all been found to be very beneficial. Plus, they are versatile! You can use them in so many ways! They are both sweet and tart, which enables them to work well with many different kinds of food and recipes. And when fresh is not available or if you need a more concentrated format, powders ad other ways of using cherries are available. Think cherry juice, dried cherries, cherry powder are all excellent options as well. 

        Unsure of how to start incorporating cherries into your diet? Here are a few ideas:

        • Cherries can be enjoyed fresh, they make the perfect snack for any occasion!
        • Dried cherries with salted nuts, dark chocolate, and unsweetened coconut flakes are a great way to create a delicious trail mix.
        • Cherries can be used in a pie tart or made into a compote that can be poured on yogurt or oatmeal, overnight oats, and chia pudding. So many options!
        • Fruit salads are always better with cherries!
        • Incorporating dried cherries into muffins, bread, and cakes is another delicious way to enjoy this fun and nutritious little fruit.
        • Cherry juice can be added to sparkling or even flat water for taste and to enhance its appeal.
        • Basically, any kind of dessert is that much better with cherries! Fresh or cooked cherries can add to ice cream, pies, and other desserts.
        • Did you know that the sweetness of cherries is actually delicious with savoury meats as well? Add cherries to a barbeque sauce and use on meat or poultry dishes.
        • There is even the possibility for a cherry salsa! Add some basil and serves with savoury meals.
        • Did we miss smoothies and shakes? Not a chance! Cherries and cherry powder are great here too! 

        The reality is that are so many ways to use cherries in the kitchen; it’s guaranteed that you will find a way that suits you and your family best! What’s important to remember is that cherries are very nutritious and are packed full of vitamins and minerals that are great for your health. The plant compounds in cherries help to reduce inflammation, are great for your heart, and aid in recovery after exercise. But honestly, we all like cherries because they taste so good! So, pick up some during your next grocery trip and enjoy their fabulous taste and all the health benefits that they provide.

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