Cherries are rich in antioxidants like their distant fruit cousin the blueberry, and contain compounds like lycopene and Beta-carotene, helpful for boosting the immune system, the prevention of bad cholesterol, and may help protect from certain cancers, as well as many other health benefits.
There are two main types of cherries; sweet and sour (also known as pie or tart). Sweet cherries are usually the cherries that are eaten raw and sour cherries are often used in pies.
Cherries contain vitamins A, C and the Bs; the minerals calcium, iron and potassium; and fiber. They are also an important source of a variety of phytochemicals. Beta-sitostrerol, a plant sterol that has been linked to lower blood-cholesterol levels, and anthocyanins give the cherry its red color and may also reduce inflammation and pain.
Besides their antioxidant quality, cherries are also part of a balanced diet according to the pH scale. Cherries are an alkaline fruit and these can help counteract the acid being absorbed into the bloodstream, and therefore being accumulated in the body. Cherries are a great snack to have around to help you keep your pH in balance.
Studies with tart cherries suggest that they contain substances that reduce the formation of heterocyclic aromatic amines (HCAAs), the carcinogenic chemicals that occur from the charring of meat. A mouse study also found that a phytochemical found in cherries reduced colon cancer cell growth.
Exercise-Induced muscle Pain
A study found that men who drank tart cherry juice after performing weight-training exercises had less muscle pain and strength loss.
Gout, arthritis and Inflammatory Pain
The substance cyaniding, found in Bing (or black) cherries, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce pain caused by uric acid crystals. A study found that people who ate these cherries for a month had lower inflammation markers, which remained low even after they stopped eating cherries.
Research found that eating cherries decreased certain blood markers of heart disease.
Anthocyanins in tart cherries were found to increase insulin production in animal cells by fifty percent.
A study involving sleep aids found that the cherry had properties that could promote a restful and uninterrupted sleep. The sour cherry, Montmorency had significant amounts of melatonin- a hormone found in the brain that regulates the body clock and can help induce sleep.
Tips on Using Cherries
- Cherries should be free from dents or discoloration. One bad cherry can cause the entire batch to go bad quickly.
- Unwashed cherries can be kept in the fridge for about a week.
- For cherry-stained hands, squeeze fresh lemon juice all over hands and rinse with warm water.
- Bourquin LD, Kang SY, Nair MG, Seeram NP. Tart cherry anthocyanins inhibit tumor development in Apc (Min) mice and reduce proliferation of human colon cancer cells. Cancer Lett. 2003 May 8;194(1):13-19.
- Carlson L, Connolly DA, McHugh MP, Padilla-Zakour 01, Sayers S. Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Br J Sports Med. 2006 Aug;40(8):679-683.
- He YH et al. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of cyanidin from cherries on rat adjuvant-induced arthritis. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2005 Oct;30(20): 1602-1605.
- Heo H, Kim D, Kim Y, Lee C, Yang H. Sweet and sour cherry phenolics and their protective effects on neuronal cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Oct. 53(26).
- Jacob RA, Kader AA, Kelley DS, Mackey BE, Rasooly R. Consumption of bing sweet cherries lowers circulating concentrations of inflammation markers in healthy men and women. J Nutr. 2006 Apr; 136(4):981-986.
- Jacob RA, Spinozzi GM, Simon VA, Kelley DS, Prior RL, Hess-Pierce B, Kader AA. Consumption of cherries lowers plasma urate in healthy women. J Nutr. 2003 Jun;133(6):1826:1829.
- Kim DO et al. Sweet and sour cherry phenolics and their protective effects on neuronal cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Dec 28;53(26):9921-9927.
- Meyer RA, Nair MG, Raja SN, Seeram. NP, Tall JM, Zhao C. Tart cherry anthocyanins suppress inflammation-induced pain behavior in rats. Behav brain Res. 2004 Aug 12;153(1):181-188.
- Schlesinger N. Dietary factors and hyperuricaemia. Curr Pharm Des. 2005;11(32): 4133-4138.