Why You Should Eat More Cherries
Cherries are an excellent source of beneficial anthocyanin antioxidants, with those that are darkest in colour providing the highest amounts. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin (beneficial for your eyes) and betacarotene, making them an ideal health snack that can even improve your quality of sleep.
Set The Snooze Button
Cherries (especially the tart Balaton and Montmorency strains) are one of the richest dietary sources of nature’s sleep hormone, melatonin – in fact, they provide five times more melatonin than other fruit sources such as blackberries and strawberries. Research from Louisiana State University suggests that drinking Montmorency cherry juice, twice a day for two weeks, increases sleep time in people with insomnia. Those drinking the cherry juice slept over an hour longer each night (averaging 84 minutes) compared with placebo.
Age-Proof Your Skin
Skin cells exposed to ultraviolet light experience less damage and are twice as likely to survive if your skin melatonin levels are high. Scientist from Michigan State University suggest that drinking a glass of red cherry juice per day may even slow the skin ageing process. This is supported by a study that assessed the food intake of over 400 older people (age 70+) living in Greece, Australia and Sweden which found that cherries are one of the fruits that offer most protection against skin wrinkling. Those eating the most cherries experienced 46% fewer signs of skin ageing than those eating the least!
Eating cherries and drinking cherry juice could also help to improve the redness of acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and other skin rashes through their anti-inflammatory action.
Lower Stress Levels
As well as containing melatonin, cherries contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid needed to produce melatonin and brain neurotransmitters that influence mood. The red pigments present in cherries also increase the availability of tryptophan, making cherries a great choice for reducing anxiety and lowering production of stress hormones.
Benefit Your Muscles & Joints
Drinking cherry juice lowers blood levels of inflammatory chemicals resulting in an aspirin-like action to reduce pain and inflammation. This makes cherries beneficial for easing arthritis and sports’ injuries. In fact, drinking cherry juice after intensive strength exercise has been shown to reduce muscle damage and speed recovery. For those with a tendency towards gout, eating 250g black cherries per day can lower uric acid levels to help prevent attacks.
Help Your Heart
The antioxidants found in cherries have a protective effect on your circulation by lowering levels of inflammatory chemicals, relaxing blood vessel walls, reducing unwanted blood clots and discouraging furring up of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
How to add cherries to your diet
Eat them fresh or frozen with yoghurt, muesli, fromage-frais, fruit salad or any dessert. De-stone cherries and purée them to make a rich red coulis to pour over frozen yogurt or other desserts. Add to smoothies, or juice cherries and dilute with apple juice for a refreshing, antioxidant-rich drink.
My favourite way to eat them is dipped into melted dark chocolate as an after-dinner treat!
Image credit: seasonalberries.co.uk
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