Fresh cherries are a favorite summertime treat, whether you love them in a fresh-baked cherry pie or as an energizing snack. Cherries are also incredibly good for you—and they boast a wide range of benefits far beyond just being delicious. Power-packed cherries are full of antioxidants, fiber, calcium, and vitamin C to help protect against chronic diseases, boost your recovery after exercise, and so much more. Below, find out exactly why this ruby red fruit is worth adding to your diet.
What do cherries look like nutritionally? Here is the breakdown for a one-cup serving of pitted, tart cherries:
- Calories: 90
- Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 22g
- Sugars: 19g
- Fiber: 3g
- Sodium: 0g
- Cholesterol: 0g
- Protein: 2g
- Potassium: 0g
- Calcium: 15% DV
While cherries are higher in sugar and carbs than some other fruits, they are also a great source of fiber, helping the body digest the sugar more slowly. A chocolate glazed doughnut may notch similar sugar numbers, it's not exactly a fair comparison—it's completely void of fiber and full of added sugars and saturated fat.
Cherries Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties
A 2018 review of 29 different studies on the health benefits of sweet and tart cherries proved their powerful anti-inflammatory properties due to a high concentration of polyphenols and vitamin C. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that are believed to protect against metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, among others. Tart cherry intake is also linked to lowered blood pressure.
Cherries are also packed with anthocyanins—the antioxidant responsible for giving cherries their deep red color. These anthocyanins present more than just a pretty face, however, as they help protect against heart disease, cancer, and even obesity.
Additionally, cherries are linked to healthier bones—one serving boasts 15% of your daily calcium needs. Cherries may help reduce joint pain in people with osteoarthritis and lower the chance of gout attacks.
Interested in learning more about anti-inflammatory foods?
- How to Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
- 5 Foods That Help Fight Inflammation��And the Recipe That Contains Them All
- 7 Foods That Can Ease Inflammation Right Now
Cherries Protect Against and Fight Diabetes
Not only do cherries possess anti-inflammatory properties, but they also rank lower on the glycemic index than many fruits. For diabetics or those at risk, cherries can help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, preventing spikes and crashes.
Anthocyanins have shown to significantly reduce the risk for diabetes as well. Several studies have discovered a strong link between this powerful antioxidant and its ability to inhibit key enzymes relevant to type 2 diabetes, thus controlling glucose absorption, reducing associated hypertension and inflammation in the body.
Cherries Aid in Exercise Recovery
You’ve likely heard cherries aid in muscle recovery after workouts, and they are used by many athletes to help recover from tough workouts. One study from the Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation at Northumbria University studied the effects of tart cherries on cyclists and found them to be an effective source for accelerating muscle recovery and preventing exercise-induced inflammation. Another study from the Sports and Exercise Science Research Center in London found that the antioxidant properties of cherries can help reduce the oxidative damage produced during intensive workouts.
A 2017 review of the benefits of tart cherry juice in athletes found the best results come from drinking 8-12 oz of juice twice a day the four or five days leading up to an event and then two or three days after to promote recovery. Cherries are also high in vitamin C—one serving packs 25% of your daily needs—which helps keep your immune system in tip-top shape.
Cherries Boost Our Moods and Brain Power
Cherries are loaded with brain-boosting capabilities. The anthocyanins in cherries are thought to boost cognitive function, prevent memory loss and protect against Alzheimer’s Disease. The polyphenols in cherries help us process new information effectively and improve communication between our brain and the rest of our body. On top of that, cherries are a rare food source of serotonin, a hormone known for regulating mood and anxiety.
Cherries Improve Sleep Quality
The serotonin in cherries works with melatonin to help you fall and stay asleep. Several studies show cherries not only help provide improved sleep quality, but they also fight against sleep disorders like insomnia.
Cherries are also rich in tryptophan—a widely known hormone for inducing sleep—which works with serotonin and melatonin to regulate your circadian rhythm and help you wake up feeling refreshed.