Even though there are over 1,000 different types of cherries, they are separated into two classifications: sweet and sour. Typically, sweet cherries are the ones you’ll be snacking on by the pool this summer or found as a garnish for your cocktails; while sour cherries are often used for cooking mouthwatering desserts or manufacturing that classic cherry syrup used in medicine to mask the original flavor. No matter how you choose to enjoy cherries, here are some great health benefits you’ll experience in the process.
Health Benefit #1 – Cherries contain antioxidants.
We’ve all heard this word before, but what does it actually mean? Antioxidants fight the oxidation of other molecules. Even though oxidation is a natural process, too much of it isn’t beneficial. Oxidation creates something called free radicals which are unstable molecules that steal electrons from other molecules. Once that happens, those molecules also become free radicals which starts a chain reaction. In short: it damages cells.
Because of this, the antioxidants in cherries can help in numerous ways. It lowers the risk of some types of cancers (including colon, pharynx, larynx, mouth, and lung cancer), and battles mental diseases related to dementia (like Alzheimer’s). Even if you may not need any of this now, prevention is always better than a cure. Luckily in this case, the prevention is also delicious!
Bonus tip: the antioxidant levels decrease in frozen cherries, and even more so in canned cherries, however the level remains noteworthy.
Health Benefit #2 – Not only do they feed your stomach, but your brain too!
Cherries contain a compound called flavonoids which shield the fruit from both insect and microbe damage, thus better preserving the many health components. Moreover, flavonoids are likely to prevent neurons from dying, and even strengthen their attachment to other neurons.
One specific antioxidant compound they have, anthocyanin, includes anti-inflammatory features. These features are known to be inhibitory for brain deterioration, enhance cognition, and improve memory. Additionally, consuming the nutrients naturally instead of through manufactured medicine, the contents will not have any negative side effects on the body.
Health Benefit #3 – They can help your hangover.
Everyone knows the best way to cure a hangover is to prevent one in the first place. But sometimes you get caught up and wake up the next day regretting your choices anyway – it happens to the best of us. While there is no known hangover “cure,” there are ways to make it a little more tolerable. Enter cherries! Not only will they help you replenish the lost electrolytes, but cherries contain natural fructose which is believed to quicken the metabolism of alcohol in the body. Only time can completely cure a hangover, but with cherries that time may be shortened.
Health Benefit #4 – They help you bounce back after a workout.
After a long workout (or even a short one) one of the worst parts is the soreness you feel the next day. It can be difficult to get into a routine of going to the gym when you continually feel the side effects of your previous exercise. The anti-inflammatory properties from the anthocyanin not only help speed up the recovery process by repairing your muscles quicker, but results in less muscle damage in the first place. This links back to the antioxidants which produces more oxygen in your system. This also means you will experience less muscle pain and tenderness overall.
Health Benefit #5 – Cherries help you with weight loss.
Surprisingly enough, cherries are rich with dietary fiber which helps you feel full quicker. Eating a bowl of cherries before a meal will help you eat less overall and help speed up your metabolism. This also means cherries make a great snack for in between meals or satisfying your craving for sweets. Even with all their benefits, one cherry contains about 5 calories, so be sure to keep track of just how much you eat, otherwise using cherries to lose weight will backfire!
Health Benefit #6 – Regulate your sleep.
The list of natural food that contains melatonin is short, and cherries happen to be on it. Melatonin is a natural hormone found in the body, but certain habits can prevent it from producing enough to sleep well. On average, there are 13 nanograms of melatonin per gram of cherry. While this may sound like an insignificant amount, studies have shown that it’s enough to make a difference. Drinking a glass or two of tart cherry juice 30-60 minutes before bed and bringing more melatonin into your system will make it easier to not only fall asleep at night, but stay asleep.
As you can see, the diverse utility in such a tiny fruit is impressive! With a delicious taste to match, it’s easy to incorporate into your diet. So the next time you’re at a grocery store or better yet, farmers market, be sure to pick up a batch of these tasty red health boosters.