As "America's super fruit," cherries offer the vital nutrition for a long and healthy life. One cup of cherries contains 90 calories with an ample supply of fiber, protein, and vitamin A and C, says the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Eating cherries leads to a boost in antioxidant activity in the body — even after just one-and-a-half servings of tart cherries, commonly known as sour cherries. A clinical study conducted at the University of Michigan found for the first time that antioxidants in tart cherries make it into the human bloodstream and boost antioxidant activity. Twelve healthy adults, aged 18 to 25, were randomly assigned to consume either one-and-a-half cups or three cups of frozen tart cherries. After the participants ate the cherries, researchers analyzed their blood and urine and found increased antioxidant activity for up to 12 hours after the consumption of cherries.
Cherries have been a popular fruit crop for consumption in the U.S. and has more recently peaked in 2009 at 2.4 lbs. per person every year, reports the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS). The boost in consumption is largely in part due to the recent studies that have unveiled the benefits of the red hot super fruit to a person's health. Mediterranean and diet expert Stella Metsovas, B.S., told Medical Daily, "Cherries are known for their anti-inflammatory benefits."
"The ORAC value (a method for checking the antioxidant capacity in food) is super high in this fruit," she added.
Although cherries are a powerhouse of antioxidants, nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH author of the forthcoming The 1:1:1 Diet, said to Medical Daily, "Beyond anti-oxidants, cherries are the only natural source of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body's internal block and sleep-wake cycles."
One cup of this tasty summer delight can keep the doctor away, aid you when it comes to cancer and age-related diseases, and most importantly help you get a good night's sleep. Find out the top six reasons to eat more of these super fruit cherries.
1. Helps With Arthritis And Inflammatory Conditions.
Cherries' abundant supply of antioxidants have been linked to reduced levels of nitric oxide — a compound associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis — says Choosecherries.com. In a cross-sectional study conducted at Boston University (BU), the relationship between cherry intake and the risk of recurrent gout attacks among 633 individuals with gout was observed for a year. Researchers asked participants to provide data on their gout attack, including the daily intake of cherries and cherry extract, during a two-day period prior to the gout attack. The results of the study showed that cherry intake over a two-day period was linked with a 35 percent lower risk of gout attacks compared to no intake. The risk of gout was even lower when cherry intake was combined with allopurinol use at 75 percent. Cherries have a high ORAC value, which helps lower circulating factors that cause inflammation, like C-reactive protein (CPR) produced by the liver.
2. Helps Lower Blood Sugar Levels In People With Diabetes.
Cherries contain the antioxidant anthocyanin — natural colorants that provide pigments in fruits and have numerous health benefits. In early laboratory studies that used animal pancreatic cells, anthocyanins increased insulin production by 50 percent, said a natural products chemist at Michigan State University in East Lansing and the leader of the study, Muralee Nair, Ph.D., reports Science Daily. The colorful compounds have not been tested on humans, and researchers advise to limit the candied maraschino cherries because they contain extra sugar and fewer beneficial cherry pigments.
3. Helps Lower The Risk Of Heart Disease.
Tart cherries can provide similar cardiovascular health benefits like prescribed drugs used to help regulate fat and glucose in patients with metabolic syndrome. The University of Michigan Cardioprotection Research Laboratory suggests that sour cherries can reduce the risk of stroke even when they are taken with the prescribed medications, says Science Daily. Researchers measured stroke-prone rats' systolic blood pressure as well as their locomotion, balance, and coordination by putting the rats through a variety of physical tests. The results of the study were seen at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting in Boston in April where stroke-prone rats, who had the combination of tart cherries and Actos - pioglitazone - a medication to treat such ailments, improved their balance and coordination and lowered their blood pressure.
4. Helps Lower The Risk Of Colon Cancer.
The dietary fiber in cherries helps lower the risk of colon cancer, says The American Institute For Cancer Research (AICR). The consumption of dietary fiber helps people with weight control. Excessive weight gain is a cancer risk factor that can increase the risk of seven cancers. A study conducted at Michigan State University tested tart cherries in mice and human colon cancer cells. Mice that had a diet of cherries, anthocyanins, or cyaniding produced significantly fewer tumors compared to mice who were fed control diets. In the second study, the same diet for mice was in the same diet for humans, which showed that sour cherry anthocyanins and cyaniding may reduce the risk of colon cancer.
5. Helps Improve Memory.
Cherries are a good source of anthocyanin, which can help enhance memory. The tasty fruit's anthocyanins helped improve memory and motor function in rats, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, says the USDA and at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, Mass.
6. Helps You Get A Good Night's Sleep.
The consumption of tart cherry juice before bed increases total sleep time and sleep quality. Batayneh told Medical Daily that melatonin is responsible for the regulation of the body's internal clock and the sleep-wake cycles. Cherry's sleep-inducing effects on the human body have been studied and have shown that a glass of sour cherry juice in the morning and in the evening helps improve sleep. The University of Pennsylvania and University of Rochester looked at the sleeping habits of 15 adults who drank 8 ounces of tart cherry juice in the morning and evening for two weeks versus drinking 8 ounces of juice without cherry for two weeks. The results of the study showed that there was a significant reduction in insomnia during the weeks participants drank the cherry juice. On average, the adults saved approximately 17 minutes of wake time after going to sleep when they drank cherry juice.