??Cherries help reduce inflammation, improve sleep, boost heart health, and speed recovery after exercise.
Cherries are among the most beloved fruits. There are two major categories of cherries — tart and sweet cherries, or Prunus cerasus L. and Prunus avium L., respectively. Their colours can vary from yellow to deep blackish-red.
Cherries are not only delicious but also pack vitamins, minerals and plant compounds with powerful health effects.
Cherries are highly nutritious and offer a host of health benefits. Not only do they contain an array of powerful plant compounds that can help reduce inflammation, but eating them may improve sleep, boost heart health, and speed recovery after exercise.
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5 Health Benefits of Cherries
So, here are 5 health benefits of cherries.
Cherries are Packed with Nutrients
All varieties of cherries are highly nutritious and packed with fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
One cup (154 grams) of sweet, raw, pitted cherries provides (1):
- Calories: 97
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 25 grams
- Fibre: 3 grams
- Vitamin C: 18% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Potassium: 10% of the DV
- Copper: 5% of the DV
- Manganese: 5% of the DV
These nutrients, particularly fibre, vitamin C, and potassium, benefit health in many ways.
Vitamin C is essential for maintaining your immune system and skin health while potassium is needed for muscle contraction, nerve function, blood pressure regulation, and many other critical bodily processes.
Cherries are also a good source of fibre, which helps keep your digestive system healthy by fueling beneficial gut bacteria and promoting bowel regularity. Besides, they provide B vitamins, manganese, copper, magnesium, and vitamin K.
Cherries are Rich in Antioxidants and Anti-inflammatory Compounds
The high concentration of plant compounds in cherries may be responsible for this fruit’s many health benefits.
Though the amount and type can vary depending on the variety, all cherries are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
This high antioxidant content may help combat oxidative stress, a condition that is linked to multiple chronic diseases and premature ageing.
In fact, one review found that eating cherries effectively reduced inflammation in 11 out of 16 studies and markers of oxidative stress in 8 out of 10 studies.
Cherries are especially high in polyphenols, a large group of plant chemicals that help fight cellular damage, reduce inflammation, and promote overall health.
In fact, polyphenol-rich diets may protect against many chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, mental decline, and certain cancers.
These stone fruits also contain carotenoid pigments like beta-carotene and vitamin C, both of which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as well.
Cherries Boost Exercise Recovery
Research shows that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in cherries may help relieve exercise-induced muscle pain, damage, and inflammation.
Tart cherries and their juice seem to be more effective than sweet varieties, though both may aid athletes.
Tart cherry juice and concentrate have been found to accelerate muscle recovery, decrease exercise-induced muscle pain, and prevent strength loss in elite athletes, such as cyclists and marathon runners. Additionally, some evidence suggests that cherry products may enhance exercise performance.
A study in 27 endurance runners demonstrated that those who consumed 480 mg of powdered tart cherries daily for 10 days before a half-marathon averaged 13% faster race times and experienced less muscle soreness than a placebo group.
Though most studies exploring the links between cherries and exercise involve trained athletes, tart cherry juice may benefit non-athletes as well.
Cherries Benefit Heart Health
Increasing your intake of nutrient-dense fruits like cherries is a tasty way to protect your heart.
Many studies show that diets rich in fruits are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
Cherries are particularly beneficial in this regard, as they’re rich in nutrients and compounds that are known to promote heart health, including potassium and polyphenol antioxidants.
Just 1 cup (154 grams) of pitted, sweet cherries provides 10% of the DV for potassium, a mineral that is essential for keeping your heart healthy.
It’s needed to maintain a regular heartbeat and helps remove excess sodium from your body, regulating your blood pressure.
This is why higher intakes of potassium have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.
What’s more, cherries are rich in powerful polyphenol antioxidants, including anthocyanins, flavonols, and catechins, which may help keep your heart healthy by protecting against cellular damage and reducing inflammation.
In fact, a study in 84,158 people found that higher intakes of polyphenols — especially anthocyanins, flavonols, and catechins — were associated with a significantly decreased risk of heart disease over 5 years.
Cherries Improve Sleep Quality
Eating cherries or drinking tart cherry juice may help improve your sleep quality.
These sleep-promoting benefits may be attributed to the fruit’s high concentration of plant compounds. Additionally, cherries contain melatonin, a substance that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
A study in 20 people showed that those who drank tart cherry juice concentrate for 7 days experienced significant increases in melatonin levels, sleep duration, and sleep quality, compared to a placebo.
Similarly, a 2-week study in older adults with insomnia found that drinking 1 cup (240 ml) of tart cherry juice before bed increased sleep time by 84 minutes.