Pretty please, with a cherry on top

Published 12:31 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2022

So, we have recognized Sleep Awareness Week, Poison Prevention Week and National Kidney Month, and today I want to speak on nutrition. As nutrition and sleep are frequently mentioned in my articles, I’m going to stray from general nutrition information and focus on an under-rated power food – cherries.

 

Power foods provide concentrated nutrients like antioxidants, minerals, and fiber. Cherries contain several potent antioxidants like quercetin, kaempferol, and chlorogenic acid. Cherries are packed with minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, and other good things like flavonoids, fiber and many B-vitamins. They are one of the most protective fruits that we can consume. 

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Just one cup of cherries contains fifteen percent of our daily vitamin C while yielding less than 100 calories. Cherries do things like slow down aging and help to fight heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s. They also help to reduce pain from arthritis and gout. 

 

Arthritis Relief. Quite a few studies have suggested that eating cherries help reduce the pain associated with arthritis. A regular diet of fresh cherries or 100% cherry juice can help lessen your joint pain.

 

Fighting Diabetes. The glycemic index of cherries ranks lower than many other fruits and does not trigger glucose spikes and crashes. This protective quality against diabetes is essential for helping to manage a complex condition.

 

Promoting Sleep. Tart (sour) cherries are a natural source of melatonin. One study with adults suffering from insomnia found that a small glass of tart cherry juice in the morning and a couple of hours before bed added nearly an hour and a half of sleep time per day. 

 

Cancer Prevention. According to the American Cancer Research Society, cherries’ high dietary fiber content makes it a strong colon cancer preventative. And the antioxidants help to fight off free radicals within the body.

 

Gout. More than eight million American adults suffer from inflammatory arthritis known as gout. Gout is caused by uric acid crystallization in your joints, causing extreme pain and swelling. However, one study showed that people who ate cherries for a couple of days reported a thirty-five percent lower risk of gout attacks.

 

Lowered Cholesterol. We know that drinking tart cherry juice helps to lower LDL cholesterol. Every one percent drop in cholesterol reduces the risk of heart disease by two percent. 

 

Prevent Heart Disease. Perhaps the most substantial benefits of eating cherries are that they can help prevent cardiovascular disease. Studies indicate that sour cherries are powerful and good at preventing heart disease and stroke.

 

Post-exercise Pain. If you’re like me, you can get pretty sore after a good workout, especially if your activities are not regular. Having cherries as a normal part of your diet can lessen the soreness. The antioxidants and flavonoids in cherries help guard against wear and tear on a cellular level and aid in muscle recovery. Competitive athletes have learned this secret and make tart cherry juice part of their routine. 

 

 I love cherries. And while they’re only in season for a short time every summer, you reap the nutritional benefits from this delicious fruit with frozen cherries, 100% tart cherry juice, freeze-dried powders, and dried cherries. If you haven’t tried a cherry smoothie, you haven’t lived. Add cherries to overnight oats. Stir chopped dried cherries into melted dark chocolate, or sprinkle on salads or cooked veggies. Add tart cherry juice to sparkling water or drink it straight. Making cherry products a regular part of your diet may sound like a small change, but this change can pay huge benefits.

 

If you have a healthcare topic of interest or a question, send me a note at Michelle.Fortune@slhnc.org. Also, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or visit StLukesNC.org to learn about top-rated St. Luke’s Hospital and our new world-class services.