Amazing Wonder-Fruit: Cherries

Cherries may just be a superhero of stone fruits. Cherries have satisfied food lovers for centuries. Their red color and tangy taste earned cherries a place on the tables of Roman conquerors and Chinese noblemen. Cherries came to America by ship with the early settlers of the 1600s. Cherries range in color from yellow to deep black-red and are either tart or sweet.

These red gems offer more than delicious taste. Cherries are now getting noticed for their nutritional value, as well as their taste. They are a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants. The darker the cherry, the more antioxidants they contain. Here are just a few of the many benefits of adding cherries to your diet.

Heart Health. The antioxidants in cherries offer benefits for the cardiovascular system. Cherries are also an excellent source of potassium, which helps to maintain healthy blood pressure in the body. Cherries can help keep potassium and sodium in balance, reducing risk for hypertension.

Inflammation & Pain. Tart cherries, also known as Montmorency cherries, have been shown in research to support the body’s response to injury and intense exercise. Daily consumption of a Montmorency tart cherry concentrate lowered markers of inflammation and oxidative stress after exercise, according to one study with trained cyclists.  Cherries have also been used in other inflammatory conditions such as gout and fibromyalgia. A study found that consuming cherry extract was tied to a 45% risk reduction for a gout attack, and eating both fresh cherries and taking the extract were tied to a 37% lower risk.

Sleep. Tart cherries contain naturally occurring melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep and wake cycles, helping you sleep better. Two tablespoons of tart cherry juice has been shown in studies to improve duration of sleep and quality of sleep.

Fresh cherries are usually only available seasonally, typically from May to August. Frozen cherries, dried cherries, black cherry juice and juice concentrates are available year ‘round. In addition, black/tart cherry supplements are available in convenient capsule or liquid form.

For a tasty recipe with dried cherries, see our Taste page.