The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Integrating Cherries into Your Diet

Aside from being a delicacy, cherries are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. All of these nutrients have various health benefits. Let’s take a look at why cherries are good for you as well as the benefits of adding these ruby-red summer fruits to your plant-based diets. 

Cherries are small fleshy stone (or single-seed) fruits from the genus Prunus. Red bing cherries are the most popular variant. However, these summer fruits also come in other colors. In terms of taste, cherries can be divided into two categories - sweet and tart. While sweet cherries make a delicious snack on their own, tart or sour cherries are generally used for cooking.

Health and Nutritional Benefits of Cherries

One of the nutritional benefits of plant-based diets high in fruits and vegetables is that they contain antioxidants. These antioxidants mitigate inflammation in the body which can lower the risk of heart diseases and other medical conditions. 

According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, one cup (100g) of fresh sweet cherries contain the following nutrients:

  • Fiber - 3.23 g
  • Calcium - 20 mg
  • Vitamin C - 10.8 mg
  • Vitamin A - 1,283 IU
  • Vitamin K - 3.23 micrograms
  • Energy - 97 calories
  • Carbohydrates - 24.7 g
  • Phosphorus - 32.3 mg
  • Magnesium - 16.9 mg
  • Potassium - 342 mg

Nutrients like Vitamin C, potassium, calcium are essential minerals and vitamins that your body needs. Fiber aids digestion, lowers bad cholesterol and helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, while Vitamin C protects against cell damage and supports a healthy immune system. Calcium aids bone growth and strength while potassium is very helpful in regulating blood pressure. Here are some of the reasons cherries are healthy fruits for you. 

Keeps the Heart Healthy

Whether they are part of a plant-based diet or consumed alone regularly, cherries are proven to be especially beneficial to the heart. They contain potassium and polyphenols, two antioxidants known to prevent oxidative damage and maintain healthy blood pressure. A hundred-gram cup of sweet cherries contains about 4.7 grams of potassium, which is about 5% of the recommended daily dose of the nutrient. Potassium helps eliminate excess sodium from the body, thus regulating blood pressure and maintaining a normal heartbeat. 

Helps You Sleep Better

Cherries are a very rich source of melatonin, a hormone responsible for maintaining circadian rhythms (the body’s internal clock). Taking melatonin in the form of supplements or eating foods high in this hormone is proven to increase sleep time and sleep efficiency. Tart cherries contain a high amount of natural melatonin and they can aid sleep by increasing melatonin levels in the blood. So, if you are experiencing insomnia, you might want to try eating cherries a few hours before your bedtime. 

May Improve Brain Function

Anthocyanin is an anti-inflammatory compound or flavonoid mostly found in stone fruits such as berries, grapes, and cherries as it causes foods to be red, purple, and blue. According to certain studies, Anthocyanin is linked to enhanced cognitive performance and reversal in certain age-related deficits that affect neural and motor functions. As a result, cherries may be beneficial in the treatment of nerve illnesses such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, anxiety, and depression.

Improves Night Vision and Eye Health

Tart cherries contain a good amount of beta-carotene and anthocyanins. When consumed, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A which helps protect the surface of the eye to prevent dry eyes. The DV for vitamin A is 5,000 IU and a hundred-gram cup of cherries provides you with 1,283 IU. Anthocyanin also contributes to eye health by preventing eye irritation and night blindness. The presence of both of these compounds in cherries makes them one of the best foods for the eyes. 

Reduces the Risk of Gout Attack

Gout is mainly caused by a buildup of uric acid in the body. The disease is characterized by the painful swelling of the joints and can often lead to inflammatory arthritis. Cherry juice can be used to treat gout as it reduces the level of uric acid in the body. People who suffer from gout are often advised to drink cherry juice or cherry concentrate to significantly reduce the potential of gout flare-ups.

Relieves Sore Muscles 

Again, anthocyanin is the hero here. This antioxidant acts as a nutraceutical to relieve muscle pain and weakness and also reduces cell damage and inflammations that occur after strenuous exercise. Tart cherry juice can be used as a home remedy to improve post-workout recovery time and treat muscle damage. 

In Conclusion

Cherries are tasty and versatile fruits. They also come with a deluge of nutrients that can help treat conditions and protect the body against health problems. Not only can cherries increase the benefits of your plant-based diet, but eating them may help you improve cognitive functions, keep a healthy heart and improve your eye health. Not only that, cherries are a great addition to a variety of dishes.