CHEERS TO CHERRIES

Just this morning after a nice bike ride, my friend and I were comparing smoothie recipes and were discussing what we each like to put in our smoothies.  I have been using a combination of coconut/almond milk, pineapple, Vega-one protein powder and a mix of frozen berries which includes blueberries, strawberries and cherries.  I always thought the blueberries were the best source of antioxidants, but after a little research I see that cherries pack even a bigger punch.  I decided to look into what other health benefits cherries can provide us and I wanted to share that information with you.

Cherries are high in antioxidants and high in quercetin. 

Cherries are full of antioxidants. These antioxidants have a number of different benefits, including the ability to prevent cancer and heart disease, as well as fighting off free radicals. The antioxidants found in cherries also work to slow the signs of aging. All cherries contain their own antioxidants but sour cherries have the most, beating out even blueberries with their antioxidant content.

Cherries are rich in quercetin, a natural flavonoid that is associated with strong antioxidant and health properties. Quercetin helps neutralize potential DNA damage caused by free radicals and may help protect against heart disease and certain cancers, including breast, colon, prostate and lung. In addition, it has strong anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effects.

A serving of sweet cherries (5 ounces, 1 cup or about 21 cherries) provides 90 calories and 3 grams fiber.  Cherries are a good source of potassium and vitamin C. Cherries are also a great source of anthocyanins, bioactive compounds that provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, cardiovascular and other benefits. Research shows that melatonin, catechins and flavanols in cherries contribute to the fruit’s healthfulness, too.

They stabilize blood sugar levels. Cherries have among the lowest glycemic index and glycemic load values of all fruit. The glycemic index for cherries is 22, and the glycemic load is three. The glycemic index measures the effect that a carbohydrate-containing food has on blood sugar levels. A score of zero to 55 is considered low. The glycemic load measures the blood sugar response in a standard serving of the food.

They help ease joint pain. Several studies suggest that the anti-inflammatory properties of cherries can help reduce inflammation that affects individuals with arthritis and gout. A study from USDA study found that Bing cherries specifically helped lower participants’ blood uric acid levels. High blood uric acid is associated with gout. Another study found that cherry consumption was associated with a 35 percent reduction in incidence of a gout attack over a two-day period. Cherry intake coupled with traditional gout pharmaceuticals reduced incidence of attacks by 75 percent. 

They act as an all-natural sleep aid. Research with tart cherry varieties show that they are rich in melatonin, a compound that helps regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake patterns. Studies show that supplements with cherry juice concentrate have been associated with improved sleep.

While your body does have the ability to produce its own melatonin, it typically does so only in darkness and not everyone is able to produce all the melatonin that is needed. Factors such as the artificial lighting that is found in many offices and homes limit how much melatonin is produced by your body. Eating cherries might help boost melatonin levels in your body.

You’ll get more out of your workouts. Cherries and cherry juice are often promoted for recovery post-exercise because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. One study showed that strength athletes who consumed tart cherry supplement experienced better recovery from intensive strength training, compared to when they took a fruit juice control beverage. Other studies with endurance athletes also link cherry compounds to enhanced recovery following exhaustive exercise.

They’re all-American. The United States is the second-leading producer of cherries in the world (Turkey is No. 1). Sweet cherries are grown primarily in Washington, Oregon and California, while tart cherries are grown primarily in Michigan, Utah and Washington.

Enjoy fresh cherries now because their season is short – from May through August. Or you can always use frozen cherries in your own smoothie recipe- they will boost your smoothie’s nutritional power!

If you have any questions about this blog or about your health in general, please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com