12 Healthy Things You Never Knew about Cherries

Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

If you are looking for a “new” superfood that has amazing health benefits but tastes good as well, then perhaps cherries are what you are looking for.

They are so deliciously sweet it doesn’t seem possible that they could really be super good for you, but they are! In the UK, cherries are so popular that have National Cherry Day every July 16th. Its growing season is short, though, so try to get them fresh while you can. You can buy them almost all year long frozen, but fresh is always best. Also, because cherries are one of those crops that tend to get sprayed with pesticides more than most, they are almost always on the dirty dozen list. Conventional cherries have been found to have more than 40 different toxins from pesticides sprays, including 14 chemicals that cause the death of honeybees, so always buy organic cherries. The good news, however, is that cherries are not GMO products, so we are safe for now. Rumor has it that there is research being done to try to create a GMO cherry that has no pit, but cherries are natural as of this writing.

Take a look at 12 healthy reasons why you should eat more cherries while they are in season.


1.  Cancer Prevention

The compounds in tart cherries reduce the formation of certain carcinogens that develop from charring meat. When researchers added tart cherries to burned ground beef patties, the tissue in the cherries slowed down the oxidation deterioration of meat lips and reduced the formation of carcinogens. Cherries contain high amounts of anthocyanins that prevent certain cancers such as cancer of the colon.


2. Great for Diabetics

Sweet cherries have a low glycemic index of 22, which is much lower than grapes, which have a glycemic index of 46, plums at 39, apricots at 57, blueberries at 40, or peaches at 42. This means cherries are a much better choice as a snack for diabetics than many other fruits.


3.  Helps with arthritis

A study involving twenty women between the ages of 40 and 70 with inflammatory osteoarthritis reported less pain and discomfort from swollen joints when they drank tart cherry juice twice a day for the three week study period.


4.  Helps with Insomnia

Drinking cherry juice can help stop you from tossing and turning at night. These delicious fruits are a good source of melatonin and have been found to help reduce the effects of jet lag. Drink a glass of cherry juice about 30 minutes after you wake up and again about 30 minutes before you eat dinner. By following this routine, study subjects increased their amount of melatonin and slept better at night.

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high cholesterol sign

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5. Heart Healthy

Since cherries are very high in potassium, they help to regulate how the heart functions. Cherries also contain phytosterols that also reduce those bad LDL cholesterol levels.


6.  Helps to Metabolize Fat

In a recent study, researchers found that when rats were fed whole tart cherries in a powder form, along with a high fat diet, did not gain very much weight nor did their bodies store the fat the way that the rats that didn’t eat the cherry powder did.


7. Stops Muscle Soreness

Drinking one cup of tart cherry juice or eating one and a half cups of tart cherries reduces muscle inflammation and the soreness that comes after intense exercise. In one study, a group of persons who ran a marathon drank tart cherry juice twice a day the week before their race. The subjects who drank the juice had significantly less muscle pain after the race than the runners who drank another type of fruit juice.


8.  Brain Healthy

Cherries are super rich in antioxidants which the Alzheimer’s Association includes in their list of healthy, memory boosting foods. Eating food high in antioxidants will help slow the aging process of the body, including the brain.

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blood pressure

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9.  Lowers the Risk of Stroke

We already know that tart cherries provide the body with cardiovascular benefits through their anthocyanins, which are what give cherries their beautiful red color. These same anthocyanins activate PPAR, which is what regulates the genes involved in glucose and fat metabolism so these reduce the risk factors for diabetes, and high cholesterol, things that add to your risk of stroke. This is according to research done at the University of Michigan Health System.


10. Lowers Blood Pressure

The high potassium levels in cherries, besides being good for your heart, are also great at lowering blood pressure levels.


11. Give You Beautiful Skin

If you have wondered which fruit has the highest levels of antioxidants, wonder no longer. It’s cherries! Eating foods high in antioxidants help your body fight the free radicals that can make us look old. Drinking just one glass of tart cherry juice everyday can slow down the aging process. Drinking cherry juice is also often recommended as an alternative treatment for many skin conditions. This is according to research done by scientists at the Michigan State University.


12.  Stops Gout Attacks

A study that involved 633 gout patients, which was performed at Boston University, showed that eating cherries lowers the risk of developing gout by 35 percent. Subjects who eat cherries over a two day time frame had a 35 percent lower risk of getting gout attacks. In fact, the gout risk lowered every day that cherries continued to be consumed.

In case you missed it, tart cherries were the definite winner when it came to the health benefits of cherries, but even regular cherries are still loaded with health benefits. Tart cherry juice is available all year around in bottles or frozen. Black cherries are also well known for their proven health benefits. So eat more fresh, organic cherries any time you find them and drink in the health benefits of tart cherry juice year ‘round.

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