Fresh cherries are a favorite 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.
Cherries are rich in nutrients
Here's the breakdown for a 1-cup serving of pitted tart cherries:
- Calories: 90
- Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 22 g
- Sugars: 19 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Sodium: 0 mg
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Protein: 2 g
- Potassium: 0 mg
- Calcium: 15 percent DV
While cherries are higher in sugar and carbs than some other fruits, they are also a great source of fiber, which helps the body digest the sugar more slowly.
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, attributed 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 them their deep red color. Anthocyanins help protect against heart disease, cancer and even obesity.
Additionally, cherries are linked to healthier bones — one serving boasts 15 percent of your daily calcium needs. Cherries may help reduce joint pain in people with osteoarthritis and lower the chance of gout attacks.
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 for diabetes, 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.
Cherries aid in exercise recovery
You've likely heard that cherries aid in muscle recovery after workouts, and they are used by many athletes to help recover from tough workouts.
A recent review of the benefits of tart cherry juice in athletes found that the best results come from drinking 8 to 12 ounces of juice twice daily for the four or five days leading up to an event, and then again for two or three days afterward to promote recovery. Cherries are also high in vitamin C — one serving packs 25 percent of your daily needs — which helps keep your immune system in tiptop shape.
Cherries boost our moods and brain power
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. Cherries are rich in tryptophan — a hormone known for inducing sleep — which works with serotonin and melatonin to regulate your circadian rhythms and help you wake up feeling refreshed.