Although we might only associate cherries with the sweet little fruits that are mainly seen on the top of ice cream sundaes, in reality, cherries feature plenty of health benefits. In ancient history, cherries were once on the tables of rulers in Rome and Greece, and even noblemen in China.
Cherries were shipped to the United States in the 1600’s, and modern day production of cherries began in the mid-1800’s. A Presbyterian missionary named Peter Dougherty started planting cherry trees in 1852 in Northern Michigan. Today the United States Cherry Industry has produced over 650 million pounds of tart and sweet cherries every year, mainly in Michigan and the Northwest United States.
There are many types of cherries including Bing, Black, Maraschino, Morello, Napoleon, and Rainier. The health benefits of cherries are multifold.
Cherries Combat Gout
One study had 633 gout patients recruited to participate. These patients consumed 20 cherries (equal to 2 servings or 1 cup), and the results showed that cherry extract was linked to a 40% lower risk of gout flare-ups, and the consumption of 20 cherries led to a 50% lower risk of patients having another gout attack. The participants provided information including potential risk factors during the 2-day period of testing. Drinking cherry juice twice a day led to temporarily lowered blood uric acid levels of 12 young volunteers, and can decrease high sensitivity C-reactive Protein.
Cherries Reduce Blood Pressure
Potassium is a key mineral in reducing blood pressure as it balances fluids in the body and offsets the blood pressure-raising effects of sodium. Cherries contain plenty of potassium. Cherries contain 306 milligrams, or 9% of daily value, of potassium. One study found that the polyphenolic compounds of cherries improved endpthelia. The vascular function in men improved and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease decreased. 15 men with hypertension who either suffered in the systolic blood pressure or diastolic blood pressure categories (or both) consumed either a 60-milliliter dose of Montmorency tart cherry juice or a placebo juice. Over a 3-hour period, SBP levels were lowered.
Cherries Reduce the Risk of Stroke
According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan Cardioprotection Research Laboratory, it has been found that tart cherries not only promote cardiovascular health but they also reduce the risk of having a stroke. Montmorency tart cherries activate the Peroxisome Proliferator Activating Receptors (or PPAR) isoforms in many of the body’s tissues. Researchers conclude that anthocyanins are responsible for this being possible. Researchers also conclude that cherries promote heart health as tart cherry intake has been shown to improve general balance and coordination.
An Awesome Health Benefit of Cherries: Sleep Aid
Montmorency cherries were examined, and they were reported to contain high levels of phytochemicals, and particularly melatonin. 20 volunteers consumed either placebo juice or tart cherry juice for 7 days, and test results revealed that there was an elevated total melatonin content in the group that consumed the cherry juice, which led to increased time in bed, total sleep time and sleep efficiency total.
The effects that cherry juice has on older adults proved to be very similar. Older adults that suffered from insomnia were given 2 weeks to consume either a tart cherry juice blend or a placebo juice. After consuming the cherry juice there were modest beneficial effects such as significant reductions in insomnia severity.
Cherries Are Great Post-Exercise Supplements
Cherries are actually great for giving you back the energy you spend on exercises. One study involved 16 semi-professional male soccer players being divided into 2 groups. After sprinting they would consume either Montmorency cherry juice or a placebo juice for 8 straight days, consuming exactly 30 milliliters twice per day. On the fifth day, they were given various physical tests, and the end result was that there was a faster recovery rate in the soccer players who consumed the cherry juice.
Breaking down cherries to use them as a powder supplement also works. 27 male and female endurance-trained runners took 480-milligram capsules of either rice flour placebo or powdered tart cherries once per day. The results revealed that the runners who took the cherry capsules posted 13% faster half marathon race times than those who took the placebo capsules. The powdered tart cherries helped reduce immunity and inflammation stress.
Cherries Treat Diabetes
Consuming sour cherry juice was very helpful for those who have diabetes. Sour cherry juice contains significant antioxidant effects. One of the main polyphenols of sour cherry juice is chlorogenic acid, which can inhibit monoamine oxidase A and tyrosinase and enzymes associated with diabetes. Sweet and tart cherries contain chemicals called anthocyanins that boost insulin, which helps control blood sugar levels. Anthocyanins are responsible for giving cherries their bright red colors. Anthocyanins can also be found in blueberries, strawberries, red grapes, vegetables, wine, cider, and tea.
Cherries Help to Combat Alzheimer’s Disease
The anthocyanins that are the nutritionally dense fruits are also helpful when fighting off Alzheimer’s Disease. Helping anthocyanins fight this disease would be dietary fiber (cherries contain 2.9 grams or 12% of daily value), and Vitamin C (9.7 milligrams or 16% of daily value). According to the Alzheimer’s Association, cherries were listed as one of the most effective fruits to fight off the disease along with plums, oranges, blackberries and raspberries, to name a few.
Gary Dunbar, director of the neuroscience program at Central Michigan University, found in a study that he conducted that cherry consumption improved brain function in mice and claims that cherries can help slow down the disease process.
Cherries Help Prevent Colon Cancer
Anthocyanins contain an aglycone called cyanidin, which can inhibit cyclooxygenase enzymes. Experiments were conducted to test whether or not anthocyanins could inhibit intestinal tumor development in mice growth of colon cancer cell lines in humans. It turned out that tumor numbers were not significantly influenced by treatment of tart cherries.
One unique way of fighting off cancers like colon cancer would be to eat cherry hamburgers. According to the American Chemical Society, it’s healthier to eat cherry hamburgers than hamburgers that don’t have cherries. Ground beef combined with fruit tissue can also slow down meat spoilage. Consuming cherry burgers helps reduce the formation of cancer-causing compounds in Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (HAA’s). According to Michigan State University, it has been determined that cherry burgers are healthy to eat and can treat your colon very well.
The University of Maryland also recommends consuming cherries to treat Colorectal Cancer, a combination of colon and rectal cancers.