Cherries are believed to have originated from Asia, and they were brought to America by the English colonists during the 1600’s. Cherry production is relatively high the northwestern part of the United States. Cherries have a short peak season, and they are the most favorite summer fruit in America, which provides vital nutrients. According to the United States’ Department of Agriculture, a bowl of cherries contains approximately 90 calories, and ample amounts of vitamin C, A, protein, and fiber, which is essential for proper digestion. Cherries are often eaten raw, made into juices, or they may act as a cocktail garnish or dessert fruits in pies. The cherry fruit, which belongs to the same family as apricots, plums, and peaches has numerous health benefits that are outlined below.
The first positive benefit of cherries comes from their powerful antioxidants, which include cyanidin, quercetin, and anthocyanins. Clinical studies conducted by the University of Michigan have revealed that consuming tart cherries increases the amount of antioxidant levels in the bloodstream. Analyses of the subjects of the study also revealed that the increased amount of antioxidants led to an increased level of antioxidant activity, which is essential in reducing the potential occurrence of cancer.
The abundance of antioxidants in cherries also helps reduce inflammation with conditions such as osteoarthritis, gout, and post-work-out soreness. Cherries and their extracts have a high ORAC value, which is linked to the lowering of circulating factors such as C-reactive protein. The C-reactive protein made in the liver is responsible for the inflammation of body tissues. The antioxidants in the fruit have also been directly associated with the reduction of nitric oxide, which is linked to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
The consumption of tart cherries also increases the body’s melatonin levels, which in turn helps in improving sleep. Cherries are the only natural source of the compound melatonin, which is an important sleep-enhancing chemical. An intake of tart cherry juice or tart cherries before bedtime can help in improving the quality of sleep and increase the time of sleep as well. The melatonin in tart cherries is linked to the regulation of the circadian rhythm of the sleep-wake cycle. Tart cherry juice consumption can thus help in fighting insomnia.
Blood Sugar Levels
The anthocyanin antioxidant in cherries also helps in lowering blood sugar in diabetic patients. These chemical compounds that give the cherries their color have been found to increase insulin production by half the normal rate in pancreatic cells used in scientific animal study models. As such, cherry consumption provides a dietary benefit that helps in regulating insulin in a natural manner that is better than invasive processes of regular artificial insulin injections.
Tart cherries also lower the risk of cardiovascular conditions when used with prescribed medication aimed at regulating glucose and fat among patients that have metabolic syndromes.Studies in the Cardio-protection Research Laboratory from the University of Michigan have revealed that the consumption of cherries can reduce the risk of getting a stroke. A high body mass index (BMI) is often a predisposing factor to cardiovascular problems. Cherries help in reducing belly fat, and this finding was proven in a study in which rats fed on cherry powder and a high fat diet were found to have gained less weight than the ones on a diet with a high fat diet and no cherry powder. In addition, lower levels of triglycerides and cholesterol were observed in the bloodstream.
The relatively high dietary fiber in cherries also helps in improving digestion and reducing the risk of getting colon cancer. The fiber helps in weight control, which is one of the significant factors that contribute to cancer development. Excess weight predisposes one to the risk of various cancers. In experimental studies, mice that were given a diet of cherries had fewer tumors when compared to those in the control groups that were fed on diets with no cherries.
The consumption of cherries also helps in improving the memory. The memory enhancing the capacity of cherry consumption is attributed to anthocyanin, which is found in plenty within the fruit. Experimental models of studies documented in the Journal of Neuroscience have shown that consumption of anthocyanin found in cherries can lead to improved motor functions that require the use of memory among rats.
As you can see, this little fruit has a wide variety of ways that it can help maintain your overall health. While we usually only get our fill of cherries in our favorite pies, there are better ways to consume this food without over indulging. The best way, of course, is to eat them raw. You get the 100% of the benefits of the nutrients and the fiber from the skin. You can also add them to a juicing recipe for a delicious and tart kick that can help add flavor to bland green vegetables. Whichever method you choose to add these to your diet, cherries are going to be extremely beneficial to your long term health goals.