The small red fruit is delightful in taste, but many do not know the many health benefits of cherry.
A cherry is the fruit of a variety of Prunus plants. There are many types of Cherries grown, but commercially major production of sour and sweet cherries occurs.
Sour cherries, also known as ‘Prunus Cerasus,’ are canned or frozen and widely used to produce pastries, cakes, and sauces.
Sweet cherries, which are known as ‘Prunus Avium,’ are consumed freshly. They are also used as a preservative in the making of real or fake maraschino liqueur.
Sweet cherries complement any diet because of their superb taste, nutritional content, adaptability, and limitless health advantages.
The majority of cherry species are frequently farmed in the Northern Hemisphere. In North America, ten to twelve species are recognized, with a comparable number in Europe.
Eastern Asia, on the other hand, is seen to have the highest concentration of cherry species. Western Asia and eastern Europe, from the Caspian Sea to the Balkans, are thought to be the species’ natural home that produced the cultivated cherries.
Three different varieties of cherry are farmed primarily for their fruit:
Their color varies from red to black. The sweet flavor of the cherries is due to a lower concentration of acid. Sweet cherries are heart-shaped and spherical. The freshly plucked sweet cherries are suitable for eating.
The acid concentration of the sour cherries is usually higher than sweet cherries which contributes to its tart flavor. Sour cherries have a dark red color and are round in shape. They cannot be eaten freshly due to their sour taste.
Dukes are a mix of sweet and sour cherries, and the extent of growing them is relatively less than the above two cherries. They are also known as ‘all-purpose cherry.’
The main health benefit of cherries is that they are low in calories but filled with various healthy components like fibers, vitamin A, vitamin C (1), vitamin K, and minerals.
Potassium (2), calcium, and magnesium are also present in the small red fruit.
Nutritional Components of Sweet Cherries
The variety of nutrients present in one cup of sweet cherries with no pits are as follows:
- Carbohydrates: 25 g
- Manganese: 0.1 mg (5% of DV)
- Sugar: 20 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 2 g
- Vitamin C: 11 mg (18% of DV)
- Energy: 97 kcal
- Potassium: 342 mg (10% of DV)
- Copper: 0.1 (5% of DV)
- Vitamin K: 3.2 mg (4% of DV)
- Vitamin B6: 0.1 mg (4% of DV)
- Magnesium: 16.9 (4% of DV)
Here, DV stands for Daily Value.
The following points highlight the various health benefits of cherry.
1. High Antioxidant content
Our body contains free radicals. Free radicals are waste products created by cells when they digest food and respond to their surroundings.
Oxidative stress occurs when the body’s ability to handle and eliminate free radicals is impaired. Many physiological functions and cells may be harmed as a result of this.
Oxidative stress is reduced by antioxidants (3). Antioxidants can be either natural or derived artificially.
Cherry is filled with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds naturally, which makes it very beneficial for our health.
The anti-inflammatory properties of cherries also help in reducing inflammation.
The following antioxidants are present in cherries.
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C
The presence of these antioxidant properties allows cherries to protect our bodies from diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (4).
2. Helps in Regulation of Sleep
You will be amazed by how many compounds a small cherry carries. Sweet cherries have melatonin present in them, which rightly adds to the list of benefits of cherry.
Those who suffer from the inability to fall asleep quickly must have tried taking melatonin supplements at least once—what better way than to get it naturally along with the beautiful taste of sweet cherries.
Along with melatonin, serotonin and tryptophan are also present in sweet cherries, which helps in increasing sleep quality (5).
Fresh cherries are by far the best choice but drinking tart cherry juice is equally healthy to improve sleep quality.
3. Reduces Gout Attacks and Symptoms of Arthritis
A gout is a form of arthritis caused by an extreme build-up of uric acid. The excessive amount of uric acid results in pain in joints, specifically the toe.
Arthritis occurs due to inflammation, and cherry is seen to be anti-inflammatory which can help with various symptoms of arthritis.
Cherries also help reduce the uric acid levels in our body and reduce the risks of gout attacks (6).
This does not mean that cherry individually can cure the symptoms of arthritis. Taking medicines for the disease is the primary step.
Eating cherries and medicines has shown positive results in reducing gout attacks and symptoms of arthritis in the studies.
The anti-inflammatory qualities of cherries, which help alleviate gout symptoms, also help alleviate symptoms of other types of arthritis.
As a result of the antioxidants in cherry, the presence of inflammatory proteins that may worsen arthritic symptoms is reduced.
4. Reduces Cholesterol and Lowers Blood Pressure
Reducing cholesterol levels in our body means lowering the risks of many heart diseases that can occur.
The research conducted has shown that cherries can lower the level of cholesterol in our bodies.
Cherries have been shown to lower VLDL (Very low-density lipoprotein), harmful cholesterol levels, enhance triglyceride to HDL (High-density lipoprotein), good cholesterol ratios.
Benefits of cherry include reducing blood pressure, both diastolic and systolic levels (7).
The presence of phenolic acids is the reason cherries are known for reducing blood pressure. The ability of cherries to lower cholesterol and blood pressure makes it very beneficial for those suffering from heart diseases.
5. Helps in Type 2 Diabetes
The benefits of cherry include reducing the symptoms as well as in treating type 2 diabetes.
The glycemic index of cherries is usually on the lower side, which can help the patients having type 2 diabetes.
When people with type 2 diabetes consume cherries, no sudden insulin response or increase in blood sugar level is seen, making cherry a safe option for eating (8).
Furthermore, the polyphenols included in cherries may aid in the reduction of oxidative stress, hyperglycemia, and even inflammatory indicators linked to type 2 diabetes.
Even if you do not have type 2 diabetes, eating cherries regularly can be a healthy practice as they are known for regulating blood sugar levels very well.
6. Memory Enhancer and Mood Booster
The list of benefits of cherry goes on and on, doesn’t it? Consuming cherries has resulted in increased cognitive abilities as well as memory improvement.
The trials conducted on the models of animals for testing memory enhancer properties of cherry showed the presence of Anthocyanins, which helps enhance memory.
Everyone might be aware that maintaining mental health is equally important as physical health, and eating cherries can help with both.
Sweet cherries reduce the cortisol levels in our body, which is the major contributor to anxiety. Along with helping with mild anxiety, consuming cherries improves the overall mood (10).
7. Lowers Risks of Cancer and Heart Diseases
According to a study, cherry consumption has been linked to a lower risk of liver, pancreatic, breast, colon, lung, and skin cancers. This is due to their Perillyl alcohol levels, as well as their phenolic components.
In this regard, it’s also crucial to emphasize their anthocyanin content. Cherries include anthocyanins, limiting lipid peroxidation and interfering with inflammation, lowering cardiovascular risk factors (11, 12).
Cherries are a particularly heart-friendly fruit because of their cholesterol and blood pressure-lowering properties.
Along with the above seven health benefits of cherry, the following health benefits of cherry make it a popular fruit.
Improves Exercise Recovery
Cherry anti-inflammatory and antioxidant chemicals may help reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness and muscle damage.
Tart cherries and cherry juice appear to be more effective than sweet cherries and cherry juice, while both may be beneficial to athletes.
Tart cherry juice and concentrate have been shown to speed up muscle mending, minimize exercise-induced muscular soreness, and prevent strength loss in elite athletes like marathon runners and cyclists.
Furthermore, some studies show that cherry products might help you exercise better.
Though most research on the relationship between cherries and exercise includes trained athletes, tart cherry juice may also benefit non-athletes.
These findings, while intriguing, are limited to concentrated cherry products like juice and powder. It’s unknown how many fresh cherries would be required to get the same outcomes.
Lowers C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
C-reactive protein (CRP) has been proven to be reduced by cherries. The primary blood measure for inflammation is C-reactive protein (CRP).
CRP is a protein that our liver produces. Inflammation causes it to be released into our circulation. When we are hurt or have an infection, our body uses inflammation to defend our tissues. In the wounded or afflicted region, it might produce discomfort, redness, and inflammation.
High levels of CRP have been linked to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
Thankfully, cherries have certain beneficial chemicals that directly target CRP. Anthocyanins, vitamin C, and other phenolic acids can assist in reducing and avoiding the effects of elevated CRP levels (14).
Helps in Maintaining Weight
Cherry’s high fiber content and low glycemic index make them ideal for weight management.
The fiber present in cherries keeps us fuller for longer, and the naturally low glycemic load of cherries minimizes blood sugar spikes. This combo is great for maintaining a healthy weight (13).
How to Add cherries to your diet
If the above list of benefits of cherry does not make you eat cherry right now, maybe the following ways of eating cherries creatively will make your mouth water.
- Cherries can be eaten as a fresh snack directly. The cherry pits should be avoided. Although ingesting a cherry pit by mistake is unlikely to cause injury, pits may be a major choking danger, especially for children.
- Many salad recipes incorporate cherries in them for their sweet and savory taste, Massaged Kale Salad is one of them.
- Make a cherry compote (fruit sauce) using frozen tart or sweet cherries and serve it over oats, yogurts, or chia pudding.
- To make a great homemade trail mix, combine dried cherries, unsweetened coconut flakes, salted almonds, and dark chocolate chips.
- Dried cherries can be used to provide natural sweetness to baked items like cakes, pastries, or cookies.
- Mix a little tart cherry juice with sparkling water and garnish with a lemon wedge for a delightful mocktail.
- Make ice cream, crumbles, pies, and other delicacies with a cooked or fresh cherry.
- Frozen cherries may be added to any smoothie of your preference. They go with almost every flavor.
- Make a cherry barbecue sauce at home to serve with pork or chicken.
- To serve alongside savory foods, make a cherry salsa using chopped cherries and fresh herbs like basil.
Making cherries and cherry products a regular part of your diet is a modest change that might have a major impact on your health.
Benefits of Cherry
Cherries are nutrient-dense fruit with several health advantages and delicious taste.
These fruits may play a role in an all-around healthy and enjoyable diet because they’re simple to prepare and can be added to a broad range of cuisines.
The benefits of cherry discussed above have shown positive results but considering them as the only alternative to get better from various conditions is not the solution.
Proper medication should be taken and consult with your doctor for including cherries in your diet.
There are no harmful effects of eating cherries but every person is different which is why consultation with your doctor is necessary to avoid worsening the condition.