When the first day of summer arrives, it means cherry season is just around the corner! Although there are hundreds of different varieties of cherries, in the United States they are separated into two types: sweet cherries (Prunus avium L.) and tart cherries (Prunus cerasus L.). These little bursts of flavor are loaded with health benefits.
For example, one cup of pitted, raw sweet cherries contains one-tenth of your daily recommended fiber. They also contain a significant amount of vitamin C and potassium as well as B vitamins, copper, manganese, and magnesium. They are also rich in antioxidants which help protect our bodies from the damage caused by daily life.
There have been several research studies evaluating the benefits of eating cherries. Some studies have found cherries may be able to help you get to sleep easier at night. Both sweet and tart cherries contain melatonin, the hormone needed to promote sleep. One study found consuming cherries twice a day after dinner and lunch helped support healthier sleep. This was especially true in the elderly who produce less melatonin naturally. Other potential health benefits include reducing exercise recovery and lowering cardiovascular and diabetic risk factors. Cherries have also been shown to lower gout attacks and osteoarthritis pain when consumed regularly. Additionally, they have been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety as well as improving memory and cognitive functions.
To gain the benefits of cherries, all you have to do is eat them! Cherries can be picked locally when they are in season or purchased fresh or frozen from your local grocery store. You can also purchase sweet cherry juice at most stores. But, if you are planning on getting your cherries in juiced form, be sure to purchase a brand without a ton of added sugars.
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Garrido, M., Gonzalez-Gomez, D., Lozano, M., Barriga, C., Paredes, S. D., & Moratinos, A. B. R. 2013. “Jerte Valley Cherry Product Provides Beneficial Effects on Sleep Quality. Influence on Aging.” The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging; 17(6), 553-560. doi:10.1007/s12603-013-0029-4
Kelley, Darshan S et al. 2018. “A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries.” Nutrients, 10(3); 368. doi:10.3390/nu10030368
U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2019. “Cherries, Sweet, Raw.” Retrieved July 28, 2023. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171719/nutrients