Join in on the sweet health benefits of cherries
These small, tangy fruits have been tantalizing taste buds since the Greek and Roman times, but did you know cherries also pack a powerful, nutritional punch?
“From sweet to tart and deep red to yellow, cherries are one of the superfoods you can easily add to your diet,” says registered dietitian Chelsea Tauer from Aurora Health Care in West Allis, Wis. “They’re packed with fiber and minerals, loaded with vitamin C and other vitamins, and full of protective antioxidants. These beneficial compounds are usually much easier for your body to absorb when consumed naturally in foods rather than from supplements. Keep in mind though, health benefits don’t come from just adding superfoods to your diet; it’s best to include them along with a consistently balanced plate at meals and snacks.”
Tauer shares five health benefits that put the cherry on top:
- Help protect against cancer and other diseases: Cherries contain a high number of polyphenols, a group of particularly strong antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and prevent the harmful effects of free radicals. Inflammation and free radicals can damage your body’s cells, which can lead to cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions.
- Soothe your achy joints: The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cherries may prevent and relieve joint swelling and pain. Studies show consuming cherries can help reduce symptoms of arthritis such as gout.
- Take care of your heart: The high levels of potassium, fiber, polyphenols and other heart-healthy compounds in cherries can help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Plus, they’re low in sodium, another good-for-your-heart benefit.
- Help your muscles recover after a workout – and even enhance exercise performance: Research studies suggest the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of tart cherries can aid recovery from strenuous exercise. This included easing muscle soreness and recovery of muscle strength, as well as improving athletic performance such as sprint time.
- Help you sleep better: These little ruby gems are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. They also contain serotonin, which helps your body to produce melatonin.
“While frozen, dried and canned cherries are available year-round, fresh cherries are in peak season late May through August,” Tauer says. “Fresh cherries tend to be more nutrient dense and priced lower during the summer, which is the perfect time to enjoy them as is or in your favorite smoothie, salad, dessert and other recipes.”
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About the Author
Mary Arens, health enews contributor, is a senior content specialist at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has 20+ years of experience in communications plus a degree in microbiology. Outside of work, Mary makes healthy happen with hiking, yoga, gardening and walks with her dog, Chester.