The produce section of your local market stocks a small gem packed with powerful antioxidants and explosive nutrients. This gem, usually dark red with a delicate stem, is truly wunderbar! A handful of sweet red cherries contain 2% daily value of vitamins A, 2% calcium, 16% vitamin C, 3% iron, not to mention other nutrients including folate and fiber.
There are two main varieties of cherries – sweet and tart. Sweet cherries are good as a healthy snack. The most popular sweet cherry is the Bing cherry, grown all over the world. Tart cherries are used mostly in jams, jellies and desserts. Whether you eat cherries right out of the bag, or freshly baked in a scrumptious pie (yes, your mouth is watering), there are benefits to eating cherries. Here are eight of them:
Cherries contain phytosterols, a plant steroid compound that helps to reduce bad cholesterol. In addition, a handful of red cherries contain 268 mg of potassium, another heart-healthy ingredient. Potassium aids in the fight against high blood pressure/hypertension and helps to regulate the heart rate.
For many years cherries have been recognized for their ability to slow the aging of skin cells. Studies show that cherries have the highest level of antioxidants of any fruit, hands down. Antioxidants fight toxins and free radicals that create deep wrinkles, acne and redness that age our skin. Get rid of acne and wrinkles from the inside out by eating a handful of cherries every day.
Bye Bye Belly
A scientific study introduced fat rats to the power of cherries. Under a controlled study, Group A rats were given tart cherry powder, along with a high fat diet. Group B rats did not receive the cherry powder but ate a high fat diet. Group A avoided building belly fat while group B gained a lot of weight. In humans, studies suggest that eating a handful of cherries may reduce belly fat.
Do you suffer from muscle aches, pains and arthritis? Have you tried eating cherries? Give it a try! A cup of tart cherry juice (about 40 cherries) has been known to zap inflammation in joints and muscles. One study by the Baylor Research Institute in Dallas Texas, indicates that tart cherries improve osteoarthritis and reduces inflammation.
Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Yawn… Are you sleepy? Cherries contain melatonin, a hormone associated with our sleep and awake cycles. Drinking eight ounces of tart cherry juice 30 minutes before dinner (your last meal) and 30 minutes after waking will increase melatonin and regulate your sleep cycle. You can try this regime while traveling as well to aid with jet lag.
Help For Diabetics
If you are a diabetic, you know the challenges of finding tasty snacks that satisfy, but won’t put you at risk. Sour/tart cherries are a good choice. They have a low glycemic index of 22, lower than plums, blueberries, grapes and peaches. Sour/tart cherries have less carbohydrates than sweet cherries. A cup of pitted sour cherries has about 18 grams of carbs.
Reduce The Risk Of Gout
According to scientific studies, eating cherries can reduce the risk of gout attacks by over 30%. If you struggle with gout, tart cherries are recommended. They contain anthocyanin, a red flavonoid pigment found in cherries and some plants. The largest growers of tart cherries are in Michigan and in Canada. You can opt for cherry juice, but eating whole organic fruit is recommended for greater benefits.
Really the #1 reason to eat cherries! A heart shaped box of dark chocolate covered cherries truly does signify love. Dark chocolate is derived from cacao seeds creating a superfood that has been known to boost brain power, lower blood pressure, and more. It contains healthy flavonols and antioxidants. But, I digress. Don’t forget about the cherry. Combining dark chocolate and a cherry is a marriage made in heaven. I would say that’s a very good benefit.
Some people are allergic to cherries, so don’t run out and buy a box of chocolate covered cherries for your significant other if they have allergies. If you are not allergic, buy a bag of fresh organic cherries and enjoy the health benefits. Eating a handful of cherries every day may help you sleep better, reduce inflammation, get rid of belly fat, stay acne free, avoid certain cancers, and much more. Check with a registered dietician to find out more about the benefits of eating cherries. Live healthy. After all, life is a bowl of cherries.