A Better Night’s Sleep, Pain Relief and Cancer Protection: Benefits of Cherries

benefits-of-cherries

You know that moment when you are grocery shopping in the produce section, you see a fruit or veggie that is in season and jump for joy because you haven’t enjoyed its taste for 6 months? That’s how I feel about cherries. Not only do they remind me of my summer family vacations to Door County drinking cherry beer, but they are one of my general superfood snacks.  Packed with anthocyanins (antioxidants), vitamin C, beta carotene, fiber and potassium, in addition to providing a natural source of melatonin, this anti-inflammatory fruit has exciting research to back up its many health benefits.

Sweet varieties such as Bing and Lambert are two of the most commonly consumed cherries; plus a sour cherry variety, Montmorency, which is popularly sold as a tart cherry juice.  Although, when it comes to the health benefits of cherries, we are NOT talking about maraschino cherries used in specialty drinks and dessert toppings as they are processed and dyed (from the Royal Anne variety).

 

The Research

Michigan State University conducted research on cherries and its’ lead researcher observed: “It is as good as ibuprofen and some of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.”  Research from Louisiana State University has shown that consuming tart Montmorency cherry juice two times a day helped insomniacs get an additional 1.5 hours of sleep per night.  Oregon Health & Science University research suggests tart cherries have the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food”. The USDA Agricultural Research Service study suggests “[..] natural compounds in plump, juicy Bing cherries may reduce painful arthritic inflammation” and  “ [..] may also help lessen the severity of other inflammatory conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or cancer.”

 

benefits-of-cherries

photo source: natashaskitchen.com

Easy Ways To Get The Benefits

Eat Fresh Cherries – Whether sweet or tart, take advantage of the fact that they are plentiful this time of year (usually May through July).  You can find them at farmers’ markets and local grocers.  But eaten raw, the sweet cherry varieties taste the best.

Frozen Cherry Smoothie – Just blend a cup of frozen, unsweetened cherries into your favorite banana smoothie to reap the benefits. For a chocolate/cherry taste, try adding 2 tbsps. of raw cacao powder.  (You can usually find frozen cherries in your grocer’s freezer any time of year.)

Tart Cherry Juice –  

Drink cherry juice or concentrate;   Check out the various brands at your local health food store or specialty grocer (Read the label for suggested daily amount and be aware that concentrated cherry juice has extra calories and sugar.)

Drizzle over your favorite dessert, fruit, or whole grain breakfast cereal;

Add a spoonful to cooked oatmeal, yogurt and salad dressings;


With that said, how are you going to enjoy the benefits of cherries this summer

 

 

References:

http://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2004/may/cherry

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22038497

http://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2004/may/cherry

http://www.naturalnews.com/046358_tart_cherries_sleep_quality_tryptophan.html

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/researchers-say-tart-cherries-have-the-highest-anti-inflammatory-content-of-any-food-155672215.html

 

NOTE: The above website links are provided as an informational courtesy and not an endorsement of their advertised product(s) by Balanced Babe.  Balanced Babe does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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