Cherries are a heart healthy addition to your diet. Their deep ruby color comes from heart healthy anthocyanins which help fight inflammation in the body. Recent research published in the Journal of Nutrition found that participants who consumed 45 fresh, sweet cherries for 28 days, significantly decreased the amount of inflammatory biomarkers in their blood. These were healthy individuals who were able to further enhance their health by preventing the effects of chronic inflammation.
Athletes may also benefit from drinking cherry juice just prior to exercise as it has been shown to enhance endurance by reducing muscle fatigue and exercise induced inflammation. Several studies have been published citing that runners who consume cherry juice post workout complain of fewer aches and pain. The soothing, anti-inflammatory effects of cherries have also been studied as a supplemental treatment for gout and osteoarthritis.
One cup of cherries without the pit, provides fewer than 100 calories, 2 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 17% of your daily value for Vitamin C and 10% potassium. Fiber keeps you fuller longer and helps to stabilize your blood sugar, Vitamin C promotes healthy cell growth and potassium regulates blood pressure and muscle contraction. Both fiber and potassium are gap nutrients in adults meaning we don’t get enough of them. One cup of cherries has the same amount of potassium as a banana. It also contains quercetin, an antioxidant that helps keep blood vessels flexible and operating like a new rubber band.
Do you have trouble sleeping? Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the body’s sleep cycle. One study found that individuals who consumed 2 Tbsp. of cherry juice in the morning and 2 Tbsp. with their evening dinner spent more time in bed, had longer total sleep time and were more effective in their sleep pattern. If you have trouble getting adequate rest, try these tips for better sleep and 1/4 cup of cherry juice an hour before bedtime.
More than 75 percent of cherries are grown in Michigan and they are harvested in June and July. Enjoy eating them fresh picked as a healthy snack or in the following recipes.
- Oatmeal with chopped walnuts and cherries
- Bibb lettuce topped with feta and cherries
- Quinoa, almonds and cherries
- Smoothie with banana, Greek yogurt, crushed ice and cherries
Cherries, like most berries are very easy to freeze. Just slice them in half, remove the pit and place them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet in your freezer. Once frozen, scoop them into a freezer bag removing all of the excess air and save for future cooking needs. Cherries are naturally healthy in so many ways, I hope you consider them as a regular addition to your good diet.
Categories: Nutrition & Wellness