Rainbow Color Group: Red
July is here and it’s the peak season for sweet cherries. Not only are they a summer favourite treat, these tiny stone fruits are also good for you! Cherries boast an impressive range of health benefits - far beyond than just being sweet and delicious.
1 cup of sweet cherries contains:
- Calories: 87
- Carbohydrates: 24.7 g
- Sugar: 19.7 g
- Fibre: 3.2 g
- Fat: 0.3 g
- Protein: 1.5 g
- Glycemic Index: 22 (Low)
- Gluten Free: Yes
3 reasons to eat more cherries
- Cherries may improve gout symptoms
Many scientific studies have found that cherries have anti-inflammatory properties. One of the beneficial effects is that cherries may potentially decrease uric acid blood levels; and that’s promising news for gout sufferers. This can mean less flare ups! A small US study involving 10 women found that eating 2 servings of sweet cherries in the morning after an overnight fast reduced levels of the inflammatory marker - C-reactive protein (CRP) - and the effect of uric acid lowering kicked in 5 hours after ingestion. A larger study involving over 600 gout sufferers revealed that those eating at least 3 servings of cherries (10 - 12 cherries were counted as one serving) every 2 days had 35% fewer gout attacks.
- Cherries may help fight against diabetes
If you worry about sweet cherries causing diabetes, you may relax now. Despite sweet cherries being incredibly sweet, its glycemic index is one of the lowest among all fruits. Indeed, cherries may actually have the opposite effect - they may help prevent diabetes. Cherries are an excellent source of anthocyanins - a type of polyphenol that exhibits powerful antioxidant properties. In particular, anthocyanins have been shown to stabilize blood sugar and lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In early animal studies, researchers have found that insulin production increased by 50% when exposed to anthocyanins.A 2017 Eastern European study followed the health data of over 5800 adults for up to 4 years. Researchers found that the intake of various classes of polyphenols could help prevent the onset of diabetes. This said, we should still eat cherries in moderate amount, otherwise it will increase the intake of sugar.
- Cherries may improve sleep
There are also tart cherry products available. You may wonder why eat tart cherries while there are sweet ones. Tart cherries are one of the few natural sources of melatonin, a substance responsible for regulating our internal clock and sleep-wake cycle. Indeed, a recent US study found that drinking tart cherry juice may help people suffering from insomnia to sleep better. Results showed that after subjects drank tart cherry juice for 2 weeks, their sleep time was extended by an average of 84 minutes. Researchers believed that it’s the combination of anthocyanins and natural melatonin that may help improve sleep.
How to choose cherries at the store
Cherries come in many varieties. The most common one is the dark sweet Bing cherry, but golden color or light red color varieties are also available. When buying fresh dark Bing cherries, choose firmer ones with a darker colour as they tend to be sweeter than lighter coloured or brighter red ones.
In addition to sweet cherries, you can also find tart cherries at your local supermarket. They are usually canned, dried, or bottled in juice. As mentioned above, tart cherries may offer different health benefits from the sweet ones; so if you’re a cherry fan, give the tart ones a try too!
If you are considering to try tart cherry juice for sleep improvement, please note that tart cherry juice may sometimes be labelled as “sour cherry juice”.
How to include more cherries in your diet
- Serve fresh: Enjoy fresh berries as snacks or as after meal dessert. You can also toss pitted cherries on top of frozen treats like ice cream or sorbet, or add them into your summer salads.
- Make cherry compote: mash pitted cherries in a pot and simmer for 5 minutes. Add a sweetener of your choice. The resulting compote will be incredibly delicious and colourful. Compote can be added to yogurt, or drizzled on pies or cheesecakes.
- Toss in smoothie: If you have leftover ripe cherries, remove pit and keep them in the freezer for later use in smoothies or desserts.