Cherries: The Superfruit You Need in Your Diet for a Healthier You

It’s cherry season, and you might be wondering if these sweet, bite-sized fruits offer any health benefits. We reached out to cherry nutrition experts to delve into the advantages of cherries, both sweet and tart, and how you can incorporate more of them into your summer diet.

Cherries pack a nutritional punch, boasting vitamins C and A, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium, according to Jessica Isaacs, R.D., C.S.S.D., an NBA dietitian and member of Cheribundi’s recovery advisory council. A typical serving of cherries comprises one cup of unpitted cherries, a quarter cup of dried cherries, or eight ounces of tart cherry juice.

But what do all these nutrients mean for your daily intake? No matter your preference for cherry varieties, experts break down the health benefits to consider when indulging in these summer fruits.

Cherries’ Nutritional Content

One cup of pitted cherries provides:

  • Calories: 97
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 25 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Sugar: 20 g
  • Magnesium: 17 mg
  • Potassium: 342 mg
  • Vitamin C: 11 mg
  • Vitamin A: 97 IU

Health Benefits of Cherries

  1. Better Sleep: Research suggests that tart cherry juice or cherry extract can aid sleep by affecting tryptophan, serotonin, and melatonin levels, hormones that regulate sleep.
  2. Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Sweet cherries can reduce inflammatory markers in the body, potentially preventing conditions like diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. They contain anthocyanins and polyphenols with antioxidant effects, which protect against inflammation.
  3. Heart Health: Cherries can reduce inflammation, slowing the formation of arterial plaque and lowering the risk of heart disease. High potassium content can also improve blood pressure and help manage cholesterol levels.
  4. Cancer Prevention: Studies show that dark cherry extracts may inhibit cancer cell growth, particularly in breast cancer.
  5. Weight Management: Cherries, with 3 grams of fiber per cup, can aid satiety, making them a valuable addition to a weight loss diet. Their low glycemic index helps manage blood sugar.
  6. Skin Health: Cherries are rich in vitamin C, essential for collagen production, contributing to healthier skin.
  7. Workout Recovery: Cherries can accelerate muscle recovery and reduce soreness after exercise, potentially enhancing endurance.
  8. Brain Health: Tart cherries and cherry juice contain antioxidants and polyphenols that protect brain cells and may improve memory and cognition in adults.

Fresh, Frozen, Juice, or Dried Cherries?

Cherry juice lacks the fiber found in whole cherries but offers concentrated vitamins and minerals. Fresh and frozen cherries are similar, so choose what suits your convenience. Be cautious with dried cherries, as they may contain added sugar and less fiber.

Are Cherries Good for You?

Cherries are not only delicious but also compatible with low-calorie diets for weight loss. They’re filling, with just 90 calories per cup and around 3 g of fiber, making them a satisfying option.

What Cherries Are the Healthiest?

Sweet, tart, rainier, and Montmorency cherries offer similar nutritional profiles, including vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants, making them nutritious choices.

How Many Cherries Should You Eat Daily?

The number of cherries to consume depends on your nutritional goals. They are low in calories, with no added sugar, and provide about 10% of your daily fiber requirement. Pair them with protein and fiber-rich foods for a balanced meal.

When Is the Best Season to Eat Cherries?

Sweet cherry season runs from June to mid-August. Check with local farmers’ markets or stores to find the exact cherry season in your area.

What Color Cherries Are the Healthiest?

Darker cherries like Bing cherries contain anthocyanins, associated with various health benefits, including anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and cardiovascular disease prevention properties.

How to Enjoy Cherries in Your Diet

  1. Baked: Use cherries in pies and baked goods.
  2. Sprinkle in Your Bowl: Top yogurt or oatmeal with cherries.
  3. In a Salad: Incorporate cherries into summer salads.
  4. As a Side Dish: Add cherries to savory dishes.
  5. As a Sports Drink: Consider pure cherry concentrate for workout nutrition.
  6. Blend into Smoothies: Mix frozen cherries into your favorite smoothies.

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