You know it’s summer when the deliciously sweet and juicy Bing, Ranier and other fresh cherry varieties are at supermarkets and farmers’ markets. Enjoy them now because cherry season will be over before you know it.
Here are five reasons to eat more of these tasty summertime treats.
They Pack a Nutritional Punch: A serving of sweet cherries (5 ounces/1 cup or about 21 cherries) provides 90 calories, three grams fiber, and is a good source of potassium and vitamin C. Studies also show that they provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, cardiovascular and other benefits. Research also shows that melatonin, catechins and flavanals in cherries also contribute to the fruit’s healthfulness.
They’re Great Year-Round: The cherry season is as short as it is sweet, but you can freeze in-season fruit to enjoy cherries all year long. Before freezing, wash and remove stems and other debris. Use a firm straw (or a cherry pitter) and place it at the point where the stem was attached and push it through the cherry to remove the pit. Place pitted cherries in a single layer on cookie sheets and freeze for about an hour before transferring to freezer bags for longer term storage. You can also freeze cherries whole with stems for a delicious snack.
They May Ease Joint Pain: Several studies suggest that the anti-inflammatory properties of cherries can help temper inflammation that affects individuals with arthritis and gout, and contributes to achy joints. One study from USDA study found that Bing cherries specifically helped lower participants’ blood uric acid levels. High blood uric acid is associated with gout. Another study found that cherry consumption was associated with a 35 percent reduction in incidence of a gout attack over a two-day period. Cherry intake coupled with traditional gout pharmaceuticals reduced incidence of attacks by 75 percent.
They’re a Natural Sleep Aid: Research with tart cherry varieties show that they are rich in melatonin, a compound that helps regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake patterns. Studies show that supplements with cherry juice concentrate have been associated with improved sleep.
They Enhance Recovery Post-Exercise: Cherries and cherry juice are often promoted for recovery post-exercise because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. One study showed that strength athletes who consumed tart cherry supplement experienced better recovery from intensive strength training, compared to when they took a fruit juice control beverage. Other studies with endurance athletes also link cherry compounds to enhanced recovery following exhaustive exercise.