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Top 5 healthy reasons to eat more cherries

July 14, 2020 (Updated: August 3, 2021)
Lily Moran

The other day, one of my girlfriends couldn’t keep her eyes open. No matter what we were doing, she’d start to drift off. On a hunch, I’d asked what she’d had to eat that day. She’d been eating cherries!

Most people don’t realize that cherries are a great, natural source of melatonin. If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, take two tablespoons of cherry fruit extract. (That’s about the same as eating 42 cherries – I’d take the extract.) It works better than warm milk, sleeping pills, or an all-night session of CSPAN.

But the health benefits don’t end there.

Top 5 reasons to eat more cherries

A serving of cherries—one cup, or about 21 cherries—is so full of goodness and nutrition. Not including a safe, easy way to get a good night’s sleep, here are our top 5 reasons to eat more of this summer fruit, cherry-picked just for you. 

1. Cherries reduce inflammation

You know that chronic inflammation is the bane of your health. Almost every disease—cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, you name it—can be traced back to inflammation.

So anything that can fight inflammation is a plus in our book. And cherries are some of the best natural inflammation-fighters around.

One study found that eating two servings of cherries in the morning reduced C-reactive protein and lowered nitric oxide—both chemicals associated with inflammation.

The study authors concluded that some compounds in cherries inhibited a variety of inflammatory pathways.

In other words, they’re a very cheap, effective, delicious way to knock down your risk of all sorts of diseases.

2. Cherries knock out gout

If you have gout, you know how painful it can be.

A form of arthritis, gout occurs when uric acid forms crystals in joints—most often toe joints.

When you’re suffering an outbreak, gout can be downright debilitating.

So you’ll be pleased to know that cherries are one of the most effective gout treatments known to science.

Since gout is an inflammatory issue, this isn’t particularly surprising. We already know that cherries do a great job reducing inflammation.

But cherries also specifically attack and break down uric acid. In a study of 600 gout sufferers, eating just half a serving of cherries reduced gout attacks by 35%. Eating a serving and a half for two days reduced gout attacks over 50%!

Drinking eight ounces of 100% pure tart cherry juice (not from concentrate and without added sugar) a day will keep your uric acid low, and possibly entirely eliminate gout from your life.

And if you’re already suffering a gout outbreak, many gout sufferers claim that drinking cherry juice offers fast, effective relief.

3. Cherries are the kings of antioxidants

One of the reasons cherries are so effective at reducing inflammation and gout is all of the antioxidants cherries contain.

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Sweet cherries are chock full of beta carotene, vitamin C, anthocyanins, and quercetin, which all help to fight cancer. One particular compound—anthocyanin cyanidin—even appears to prevent genetic mutations that lead to cancer.

Generally speaking, those antioxidants are found in the skin of fruit—and the darker the better.

Cherries have darker skin than just about any other fruit. And, because they are so small, you’re getting more skin than you would eating, for instance, a plum.

That’s why cherries are as good as it gets when it comes to antioxidants.

4. Cherries slim you down

Fighting cancer is beneficial enough. But anthocyanins have another trick up their sleeves.

They tell your metabolism to speed up, and start burning fat.

One study found that rats that ate a little cherry powder with their meals lost weight, compared to the control group. Which only makes sense, when you understand the chemistry.

So if you want dessert, but you’re watching your waistline, reach for a bowl of cherries.

5. Cherries take away the pain

Perhaps because of their anti-inflammatory properties, cherries are very effective pain relievers.

They are great at treating arthritis pain, of course. But cherries are effective at treating all sorts of muscle soreness as well.

In fact, a study of marathon runners found that those who drank two glasses of cherry juice a day, for the week preceding a race, felt much less pain after their 26.2 miles than the control group.

Now is the best time to eat fresh cherries. But you can store them up to 12 months frozen, and cherry juice is available year-round.

Just remember—while cherries have a low glycemic index score, juices strip the fibers out and the glycemic scores goes up. Use juices sparingly, like you would a supplement.

And, whenever you can, go for the real thing. Cherries have so many amazing health benefits, we’ve only just started to scratch the surface.

Still, preventing cancer, relieving pain, reducing inflammation, and encouraging weight loss is a pretty strong start.

Take good care.

References

Disclaimer: Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Updated: July 14, 2020
Originally Published: September 7, 2016

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