The health benefits of cherries are as sweet as they taste! It is that time of the summer when Cherries are in season and abundant in the grocery stores and farmer's markets. I am not talking about the dyed red cherries in a jar, I am talking about Rainier, Bing, and Chelan Cherries of the Northwest. While living in the Northwest I would look forward to this time of the year when I could get my hands on the freshest cherries around! While consuming mass amounts of Rainier and Chelan Cherries I was unaware how healthy they are. I keep a big bowl of cleaned cherries in my refrigerator as long as this party lasts - through August :)
There are two categories of Cherries - sweet and tart, both packing health benefits. Cherries grown here in America are a great Super Fruit alternative to tropical berries we do not have great access too. Cherries are often overlooked for a sweet treat but they are much more than that, showing promise in weight loss, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and much more.
Cherries (both sweet and tart) contain a compound called anthocyanins, which is of growing interest to scientists because of its' anti-inflammatory effects on the body. A study at John Hopkin's University shows that anthocyanins can reduce painful inflammation in animal studies. Cherries were shown to reduce oxidative stress, which is a cause of autoimmune disease.
Cherries are being recognized as a "Super Fruit" based on recent research indicating they have powerful cancer fighting qualities. Tart cherries were studied and found to be beneficial in reducing the risk of colon cancer. In a study with mice prone to colon cancer it was found that adding cherries to their diet resulted in a reduction in colon tumors and sizes. The compound anthocyanins may inhibit mammary cancer in rats, reducing the risk of breast cancer.
Sweet Cherries (and of course tart ones) are a good fruit for people with diabetes because even sweet cherries are lower than other fruits on the glycemic chart at only 22. The compound anthocyanins may also help those with diabetes. "In early laboratory studies using animal pancreatic cells, the chemicals, called anthocyanins, increased insulin production by 50 percent, according to a peer-reviewed study scheduled to appear in the Jan. 5 issue of the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry." - Science Daily. Some people have reported checking their blood sugar before eating cherries and found that it actually went down after eating cherries!
Cherries also contain:
When I do not have access to fresh organic cherries I eat Raw Cherry Pie Larabars. You can also find dried cherries or organic cherry juice in the off season :) Enjoy!
References and Interesting Links
All About Northwest Cherries
Recent John's Hopkins Cherry Information
Cherry Growers of Australia