Cherries are one of my favorite summer fruits. In addition to being super sweet and delicious, these gorgeous red gems are loaded with health benefits. Here are seven ways cherries boost health and fight off chronic disease.
7 Health benefits of cherries
“Sweet Northwest Cherries bring as much to the table, both in terms of nutrition and health benefits, as blueberries, cranberries and other known superfruits,” says James Michael, promotions director of Northwest Cherries, a growers’ organization that represents Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah and Montana. “With more and more research highlighting these health benefits, and what they mean for consumers, people are starting to view fresh sweet cherries in a much broader perspective than just a summer treat. In fact, we are seeing an increase in cherry freezing, preservation and dried formats so people can enjoy the benefits of sweet cherries year round.” Here’s why you should, too.
1. Cherries reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Research shows that compounds found in sweet cherries can play a role in protecting neuronal cells, which are involved in brain function and reduce oxidant stress and can potentially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
2. Cherries combat cancer
Fiber, vitamin C, carotenoids and anthocyanins are a quadruplet of cancer-preventative components found in sweet cherries. In addition, cyanidin, also found in cherries, significantly increases free radical scavenging of the body, which is known to help prevent and fight cancer.
3. Cherries fend off cardiovascular disease
The anthocyanins found in cherries can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease; it does this by protecting your body’s lipids from a host of damaging possibilities, including inflammation, cardiovascular plaque and nitric oxide formation.
4. Cherries defend against diabetes
Though a protective role in diabetes is relatively rare, researchers are interested in the role of anthocyanins in reducing insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. Since the role of glycemic index in diabetes control has gained renewed interest, sweet cherries, with a moderate glycemic index of approximately 22, are thought to be a better fruit-based snack as compared to higher fruits such as apricots (57), grapes (46), peaches (42), blueberries (40) or plums (39).
5. Cherries are an anti-inflammatory food
Cherries have also been shown to reduce inflammation through their powerful phytochemicals, which are known to inhibit the enzymes responsible for causing painful inflammation.
6. Cherries lower your risk of hypertension and stroke
A serving of cherries has a whopping 270 mg of potassium, compared to apples which have 148 mg and strawberries which have 254 mg. Evidence shows that adequate potassium reduces the risk hypertension and stroke.
7. Eat cherries for better sleep
Cherries are a good food source of melatonin, which helps regulate circadian rhythm and promote healthy sleep patterns, making them effective in reducing jet lag.