Americans love a new story about the latest and greatest super fruits. The idea that a plant or seed from Mother Nature can deliver health benefits beyond anything that we can find in a bottle is intriguing to say the least. Many super fruits come from far-off lands and have exotic names. Some have to be juiced or frozen immediately due to their delicate nature and others are almost so impossible to find that one can only achieve consumption when it’s combined with another product (think crackers, juices, etc.).
When I think of the most amazing super fruit that I want in my fridge, I think of something easy, attainable and filled with greater benefits than others – cherries. They have been around since the Greek and Roman empires; they are grown in several states in the United States; and they even tempted our first President. Their history in our lives is evident, but their effects on our individual health are even more exciting.
Cherries are delicious and satisfying, and make a great snack or dessert (especially when they are consumed in place of processed sweet foods that are loaded with fat, calories and sugar). Beyond the tastiness of cherries, however, lies a hidden gem of health benefits. Studies conducted in the past 10 years indicate that cherries may help you live longer and with less disease, better sleep and less pain. Additionally, cherries may help you weigh less.
A recent study in the Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine found that tart cherry juice increased total antioxidative capacity, reduced inflammation, and aided in muscle recovery for marathon runners. Another study in the Journal of Nutrition found that cherries helped to reduce the inflammatory symptoms of gout by inhibiting inflammatory pathways. A rat study in 2008 found that rats fed a high-fat diet had lower markers of inflammation associated with heart disease and diabetes as well as significantly lower lipid levels when their diet was supplemented with tart cherry powder.
Cherries may also have an effect on your ZZZ’s as well. That’s because tart cherries contain melatonin — a hormone produced in the brain’s pineal gland that is associated with better sleep and perhaps even increased longevity. A study conducted in the Journal of Pineal Research on diabetic rats found that supplemental melatonin helped to reduce overall weight gain. Cherries are one of the only fruits to have naturally occurring melatonin.
What are you waiting for? Grab some cherries or cherry juice and start reaping the taste and total-body benefits today!