I made my weekly pilgrimage to Trader Joe’s on Monday and as soon as I walked in I was greeted by a huge display of fresh cherries. The same thing happened when I hit my local food store and my local farmers market this week. Which reminded me, I love cherries! They are sweet and tart, meaty and filling, they totally curb my sweet tooth and they consistently make the top of the list when it comes to healthiest fruits. I thought I’d share with you today what makes them so good for you….and encourage you to go out and grab some for yourself. It’s cherry season and the cherries I purchased this week look gorgeous and taste delicious.

Coined “America’s Super Fruit,” cherries offer vital nutrition for a long healthy life while also being one of the most health protective foods overall.  One cup (or about 21 cherries) contains less than 100 calories and provides 15% of your daily vitamin C needs in addition to an ample supply of fiber, protein, and vitamins A and C.  But there’s more! Here’s seven reasons why I’m upping my cherry intake and I think you should do the same:

Cherries are full of antioxidants. Studies show that eating cherries leads to a boost of antioxidant activity in the body—even after just one and a half servings. These cellular body guards have also shown to slow down aging and ward off chronic illnesses—including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and obesity.

Cherries protect against Diabetes. Even though they are perceived as super sweet, cherries rank lower than many fruits on the glycemic index which means they don’t trigger spikes and crashes in your blood sugar and insulin levels. This makes them both protective against diabetes, and important for managing the condition if you already have it. 

Cherries curb cholesterol. Doctors are prescribing tart cherry juice to their patients that have high cholesterol (especially the “bad” type known as LDL). The juice has proven to lower those levels naturally in many recent studies. Great news as a 1% reduction in cholesterol lowers the risk of heart disease by 2%. And a high LDL is particularly worrisome in relation to heart attack risk.

Cherries may help you get a good night’s sleep. Melatonin is responsible for the regulation of the body’s internal clock and the sleep-wake cycles and tart cherries are one of the few natural food sources of melatonin. One recent study in men and women with insomnia found that compared to a placebo, eight ounces of tart cherry juice in the morning and again one to two hours before bed increased sleep time by an hour and 24 minutes.

Cherries can improve your memory. Cherries are a very good source of anthocyanin, which has proven to help enhance memory.

Cherries can provide arthritis relief. Because of their anti-inflammatory properties, several studies have suggested that cherry consumption is beneficial for osteoarthritis sufferers. Regularly incorporating cherries or 100% cherry juice into your meal or snack routine may help lessen your joint pain.

Cherries may help control your weight. Because cherries are a great source of dietary fiber, they help to keep you “regular”, they help flush out your system, they help to keep you full and therefore they help control your weight. A great addition to any meal or snack!

Nothing beats a bowl of fresh, delicious, cherries. Run out and stock up while they are ripe for the picking. But, if you can’t get your hands on fresh cherries, there are other ways to reap all the amazing health benefits they provide. Look for organic frozen cherries and add them to your smoothies, purchase preservative-free dried cherries and add them to your granola, trail mix, salads and oatmeal or pick up some 100 % organic tart cherry juice. I like to cut the juice with some seltzer or club soda for a refreshing drink and if it’s Friday….I may even take it up a notch and make it a cocktail! Enjoy! Xx Janine