Did you know that on top of being a yummy treat, there are also a lot of health benefits that come with snacking on cherries? The red fruit is packed with nutrients that keep our hearts strong, soothe arthritis pain, and even help us get a better night’s sleep!
Whether you prefer sweet or tart cherries, they’re both a great source of fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, and magnesium. They also contain a high amount of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant polyphenols. One particular polyphenol known as anthocyanins are known to be especially beneficial. According to research, this antioxidant can help with everything from warding off signs of aging in our skin and brain to reducing chronic inflammation throughout our body.
The Arthritis Foundation notes that many people have sworn by cherries as an anecdotal remedy for their chronic joint pain for centuries. More recently, there’s been some compelling research to back the claims up. The organization cites one study that had participants consume cherries as a supplement and showed significant improvement in their pain level and joint function. Another study from 2013 saw similar results after having patients drink tart cherry juice.
In each case, the improvements were achieved with high concentrations of the fruit to give participants a hefty boost of those anthocyanins. You can easily grab cherry supplements (Buy on Amazon, $19.95) or tart cherry juice (Buy on Amazon, $12.76) at stores or online, but it’s important to talk to your doctor before adding either to your daily routine. In milder cases, simply snacking on a handful of cherries might give you enough of the polyphenol to make a difference.
Anthocyanins are also well known for their ability to promote heart health, as shown in other similarly hued fruits and vegetables, like purple yams, radishes, and bilberries. The antioxidant helps to lower blood pressure and balance blood sugar, which are both essential for avoiding conditions like heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. Research also finds that the potassium in cherries is essential for maintaining a regular heart rate and removing excess sodium from our blood — two more important ways to keep our blood pressure in check.
And if a healthy heart and less joint pain wasn’t enough, cherries might also be the perfect bedtime snack for those who struggle with falling asleep at night. Like pistachios, they’re a natural source of melatonin! You could even combine the nuts and fruit for a scrumptious end of the day treat that will help you drift off to dreamland.
As with any other heathy fruit, it’s important to be mindful of the amount of sugar you’re getting from cherries — especially if you have diabetes. According to Healthline, there are about 25 grams of sugar in a cup of sweet cherries and 19 grams in a cup of tart cherries. That said, they both rank mid-to-low on the glycemic index, meaning they shouldn’t cause an immediate spike in blood glucose.
With all these perks, it’s no wonder we say “life is like a bowl of cherries” when everything is going well for us!
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