(Natural News) Cherries are small, round, dark red stone fruits that may taste sweet or tart (sour), depending on the variety. When you eat cherries, you enjoy much more than their delicious taste because they offer many health benefits. Here are seven reasons why you should start eating this amazing fruit today:
- They are loaded with antioxidants – Cherries are packed with powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. They slow down aging and protect against serious health problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
- They ease post-workout soreness – After an intense workout, muscle soreness typically follows. Drinking tart cherry juice before your exercise routine can reduce post-workout soreness, according to a study published in the journal Nutrients. In addition, cherries protect against cellular wear and tear from exercise and help support muscle recovery. Because of these, tart cherry juice is popular among athletes, although it can be beneficial to anyone who’s physically active.
- They help you get a good night’s sleep – If you are having problems getting a night of good sleep, eating cherries may help. This is because cherries are one of the few foods that contain melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycles. In a study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics, researchers assessed men and women with insomnia who drank either eight ounces (oz) of tart cherry juice or a placebo in the morning and one to two hours before bed. Researchers found that those who drank tart cherry juice slept for an hour and 24 minutes longer than usual.
- They lower cholesterol – Having high cholesterol can increase your risk of many diseases, including heart disease and heart attacks, so keeping it at a healthy level can protect you from the disease. Drinking tart cherry juice can help reduce total cholesterol, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, according to a study in the journal Food & Function. For every one percent reduction in cholesterol, your risk of heart disease declines by two percent.
- They prevent diabetes – Eating cherries can lower your risk of diabetes not only because of the fruit’s anti-inflammatory effect but also because it has a low glycemic index. This means that cherries don’t cause spikes and drops in your blood sugar and insulin levels, which also makes them great for managing diabetes.
- They reduce the risk of gout attacks – In the U.S., more than eight million adults suffer from gout, which is inflammatory arthritis that occurs when a waste product called uric acid crystallizes within the joints. This condition causes pain and swelling. One study looked at gout patients who consumed cherries – the fresh fruit, as well as cherry extract and juice – for two days. Compared to those who did not eat cherries, those who consumed the fruit experienced a 33 percent lower risk of gout attacks.
- They relieve osteoarthritis – People with osteoarthritis can also benefit from consuming cherries, according to several studies. Regularly eating cherries or drinking 100 percent cherry juice may help reduce your joint pain.
Best ways to consume cherries for maximum benefits
The best way to eat cherries is eating them fresh when they are in season, typically from June to August. You can also reap its benefits in other ways. If you can’t find fresh ones, opt for frozen cherries, freeze-dried powders, preservative-free dried cherries, and 100 percent tart cherry juice.
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You can add frozen or freeze-dried powders to smoothies or overnight oats. You can also pair cherries with other foods rich in protein and healthy fats to stabilize blood sugar, such as almonds or pistachios. For cherry juice, you can drink it straight up or add it to sparkling water. (Related: Cherries are nutrient-dense, low-calorie fruits that provide important nutrients necessary for your best health.)