6 Amazing Health Benefits Of Eating Cherries

benefits of eating cherries

Think of cherries, think of a juicy red fruit placed atop an ice cream scoop. Here’s the surprise! All cherries are not red. Nor is it just sweet and round. The cherry is a fleshy drupe, a fruit of the plants of the genus Prunus.1 Read on to know more about the fruit.

Types of Cherries

Though there are many varieties of cherries available in the market, they can be broadly divided into two–sweet cherries and sour or tart cherries. We eat sweet cherries raw and fresh from the tree while sour cherries are often eaten processed. Tart or sour cherries make up the majority of the processed cherries that go into pies and preserves.2

Cherries are truly a super fruit. And that’s mainly because of the anthocyanins in them. Anthocyanins are a special class of flavonoids (the components that give color to the fruits) known for being free radical scavengers that give the fruit edge over other fruits in fighting diseases like

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cancer.3 They are commonly found in deep-coloured fruits but cherries are special simply because a study has found that only tart cherries have six specific anthocyanins.4

1. Fights Cancer

Cherries, both sweet and tart, are known for their cancer-fighting property. Various nutrients and bioactive compounds like vitamin C, anthocyanins, quercetin, etc found in sweet cherries give it the ability to fight many diseases including cancer.5

In a study done on mice, it was found that when given a diet comprising tart cherries, the anthocyanins and cyanidin in them reduced the cell growth of human colon cancer cell lines HT 29 and HCT

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116. Colonic tumor numbers or volume, however, did not diminish much.6

Apart from anthocyanins, the other flavonoids found in abundance in cherries, too show anticarcinogenic effects.7

2. Protects The Brain

Research shows that anthocyanins in cherries possess strong anti-neurodegenerative properties that can protect the neuronal cells from oxidative stress that could damage them.8 Oxidative stress, along with aging can result in the death of nerve cells in certain brain regions, leading to many neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.9

Anthocyanins are also believed to have a protective effect on brain tissues and can guard the brain against neurological disorders like brain ischemia where there is reduced blood supply to the brain.10

3. Improves Heart Function

Studies on rats have shown that cherries, especially tart cherries, are capable of reversing some of the most prominent risk factors for cardiovascular diseases like cholesterol, triglycerides, and inflammation.11

In a study on humans, it was found that drinking 8 ounces of tart cherry juice daily reduced the triglyceride and cholesterol levels in the study subjects.12

In another study, rats were given tart cherry powder which resulted in the decrease of 26 percent of cholesterol and 65 percent of mortality in them which were believed to be linked to improved heart function.13

4. Protects Against Metabolic Syndrome

Anthocyanins in cherries are found to put up a good fight against metabolic syndrome, a collection of conditions such as high triglycerides and lipid profile, high fasting blood sugar and blood pressure and excess weight. Many research have shown that consuming tart cherries can reverse factors that lead to metabolic syndrome and later, type 2 diabetes. When obese rats were fed tart cherry juice daily for 90 days as part of the research, it was found that various components that make up

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metabolic syndrome were reduced drastically.14

5. Reduces Inflammation

We all go through inflammations of varying degrees at some point in our lives. Sometimes, it is mild and passes with time but sometimes, inflammation can be severe and lead to many health complications. Inflammation is basically our immune system’s response to stimulus and works as a defense mechanism. But sometimes immune system fights healthy body cells by mistake resulting in many diseases. 15

Foods rich in antioxidants are considered excellent for inflammation. In a study conducted on mice tissues like blood, liver, and brain to understand the efficacy of cherries in keeping inflammation in check, sour cherry juice was found to hold anti-inflammatory properties.16

Feeling tired and sore after running a marathon? Tart cherry juice is what you need. Studies have shown that this juice can effectively reduce some of the symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage17 18

An estimated 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis and are in pain. According to researchers at the Baylor Research Institute who conducted a study on patients with osteoarthritis, more than half of the patients showed up for the pilot study experienced significant improvement in pain and function after

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taking the cherry powder pills for 8 weeks.19 Cherry juice is found to be a good pain reliever in cases of gout, too. 20

Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative capacity, cherries are considered a natural alternative to over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).21

6. Improves Sleep

Melatonin is a pineal hormone in our body that is responsible for regulation of the sleep-wake cycle and facilitation of sleep. Sleep disturbances can lead to immune suppression and can put you at risk for cancer.22

Cherries contain high levels of melatonin, even higher than that found in the human blood.23

Studies show that drinking tart cherry juice can enhance sleep duration and sleep quality,24 leading to enhanced physiological and cognitive functions, and a general improvement in well-being.

Cherries are a powerhouse of disease-fighting, highly nutritional substances that affect every aspect of our health and well-being. These small fruits are so unbelievably beneficial that they can rightly be classified as a super fruit.

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