Cherries are one of the most popular summer fruit, with around two million tonnes being produced worldwide every year! Thankfully, cherries are also wonderful for our health! That deep, dark red hue is a good sign that they pack an array of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The health benefits of cherries range from helping to relieve pain, prevent diseases like cancer and slow down the aging process.
Here are the top 5 most important health benefits of cherries!
Help Fight Cancer & Disease
Cherries are very rich in antioxidants – you can tell simply by observing their deep red hue. Antioxidants help scavenge free radicals which induce damage to our DNA and cells in our body. When we consume a large quantity of antioxidants, they replace the free radicals in our body before they can cause any harm to our health.
Cherries are rich in queritrin (a flavonoid), which has been found by researchers to be one of the most potent anti-cancer antioxidants. They also contain ellagic acid (potent anti-carcinogen and anti-mutagenic which eradicate cancer cells in the body) and perillyl alcohol (POH) which is extremely powerful in destroying proteins that the cancer cells need to grow.
Powerful Anti-Inflammatory (Arthritis, Gout, Migraines)
Cherries, similar to berries, help fight off inflammation in the body thanks to their high concentration of free-radical scavenging antioxidants. The anthocyanins and bioflavonoids in cherries slow down COX-1 and COX-2 pro-inflammatory enzymes, which means that individuals suffering from arthritis and gout will experience major pain relief from a reduction in inflammation.
By helping reduce inflammation in the body, cherries also help eliminate migraine headaches. In fact, cherries work so well at reducing headaches and migraines, that they have been found to be just as effective as aspirin and ibuprofen!
“Brain Food” – Improve Memory
Anthocyanins in cherries produce powerful effects in the brain, such that they improve circulation of blood and thus increase the ability of neurons to communicate more effectively. This means better memory and reduced risk of developing diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Help You Lose Weight
Cherries, like all fruit, can actually help you lose weight! Foods that are high in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients help signal to the brain that the body has received ample nutrients and will shut off the hunger signal. When we consume empty-calorie foods (anything highly processed and packaged), we feel as though we can eat 500 times the amount of those foods and STILL not be satiated. This is because these foods are stripped of nutrients, and thus our body gets confused and wants to keep eating until it has fulfilled it’s nutrient needs.
Cherries have been extensively studied and have proven to lower total body weight, reduce belly fat and cholesterol. Specifically, tart cherries have the potential to limit the uptake of fat into the body and help control blood cholesterol levels.
Reset Circadian Rhythms
Cherries contain the antioxidant melatonin which is released when we sleep, and helps regulate our circadian rhythms. Our body rapidly absorbs melatonin, so if you want to sleep easy, eat a cup or two of cherries before you go to bed. Not much melatonin is present in the body, so consuming foods that contain this antioxidant is a wonderful way to naturally treat insomnia and help you sleep better.
McCune, L., Kubota, C., Stendell-Hollis, N., & Thomson, C. (2010) Cherries and health: A review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 51, 1-12.
Kelley, D., Rasooly, R., Jacob, R., Kader, A., & Mackey, B. (2006) Consumption of bing sweet cherries lower circulating concentrations of inflammation markers in healthy men and women. American Society for Nutrition, 136, 981-986.
Seymour, E., Lewis, S., Urcuyo-Llanes, D., Tanone, I., Kirakosyan, A., Kaufman, P. (2009) Regular tart cherry intake alters abdominal adiposity, adipose gene transcription, and inflammation in obesity-prone rats fed a high fat diet. Journal of Medicinal Food, 12, 935-942.
Gonzalez-Gomez, D., Lozano, M., Fernandez-Leon, M., Ayuso, M., Bernalte, M., Rodriguez, A. (2009) Detection and quantification of melatonin and serotonin in eight sweet cherry cultivars (prunus avium L.) European Food Research and Technology, 229, 223-229.