Cherries are delicious, to be sure, but are there some hidden health benefits within this delectable fruit? Happily, the answer is yes. In honor of President’s Day (and the whole myth about George Washington chopping down a cherry tree), let’s take a look at this cheerful fruit to see what healthy perks lie within its delightful flesh.
Cherries make a fantastic addition to a wide variety of desserts (cherry cheesecake, anyone?), but they’re also great to simply snack on. Cherries are chock-full of vitamin A and vitamin C and even have some omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. How does that benefit us when we eat them, though? We combed through medical research and asked experts to find out more.
Cuts the risk of heart disease
Dr. Luiza Petre, a cardiologist, tells SheKnows that cherries can help lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels, both of which can contribute to heart disease.
Improves gut health
A 2018 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that Montmorency tart cherries (which, like their name implies, are sour) can positively impact the human gut microbiome, as they help stimulate the growth of good bacteria.
A 2013 study in the Journal of Nutrition looked at sweet cherries (as opposed to tart) and found that consuming this sweet fruit has been shown to decrease inflammation in the human body.
Prevents gout attacks
Petre also notes that cherry juice can help prevent gout attacks. Gout is caused by an overabundance in the body of uric acid, which can crystallize in the joints and is extremely painful. Cherries, she says, contain high levels of an anti-inflammatory antioxidant called anthocyanins, which can help lower the levels of uric acid. Its high levels of vitamin C can aid in this as well.
Can lower blood sugar levels in those with diabetes
“The antioxidant anthocyanin present in cherries is directly linked with improved insulin response,” Petre explains. “In short, your body can lower blood sugar more quickly and efficiently after a meal.”
Eases post-workout soreness
Cherries are also a good option after a workout, Alissa Rumsey, a registered dietitian, tells SheKnows.
“Montmorency tart cherry juice can help improve recovery time after exercise, decrease muscle pain and lessen muscle damage,” she says.
Amps up brainpower
According to Petre, those flavonoids present in cherries can help boost memory function.
Promotes a better night’s sleep
They can also help you sleep. “According to recent research, Montmorency tart cherry juice can help extend sleep time by nearly an hour and a half without the side effects that can sometimes be associated with OTC and other sleep remedies,” explains Rumsey.
Brings pregnancy benefits
Also, for those who are expecting a baby, cherries (in moderation) can help improve blood flow to the placenta, says Petre.
So, a bowl of cherries might not be the single solution to all your health problems (in other words, don’t ignore your doctor’s advice while you gobble cherries and hope it cures all that ails you), but they do have a ton of health benefits that you shouldn’t ignore. Whether you’re eating cherries by the handful or are looking into different types of cherry juice (and yes, there are a bunch of different kinds), it’s a smart idea to add some bright-red goodness to your diet so you can decrease inflammation, lower your risk of heart disease and possibly sleep better.