7 Impressive Health Benefits of Cherries
By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD
Cherries are one of the most beloved fruits, and for good reason.
They're not only delicious but also pack vitamins, minerals and plant compounds with powerful health effects.
Here are 7 impressive health benefits of cherries.
1. Packed With Nutrients
Cherries are small stone fruits that come in a variety of colors and flavors. There are two major categories — tart and sweet cherries, or Prunus cerasus L. and Prunus avium L., respectively.
Their colors can vary from yellow to deep blackish-red.
All varieties are highly nutritious and packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
One cup (154 grams) of sweet, raw, pitted cherries provides (1):
- Calories: 97
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 25 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Vitamin C: 18% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Potassium: 10% of the DV
- Copper: 5% of the DV
- Manganese: 5% of the DV
These nutrients, particularly fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, benefit health in many ways.
Vitamin C is essential for maintaining your immune system and skin health while potassium is needed for muscle contraction, nerve function, blood pressure regulation, and many other critical bodily processes (2 Trusted Source, 3 Trusted Source).
Cherries are also a good source of fiber, which helps keep your digestive system healthy by fueling beneficial gut bacteria and promoting bowel regularity (4 Trusted Source).
Plus, they provide B vitamins, manganese, copper, magnesium, and vitamin K.
Cherries are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and other nutrients that your body needs to function optimally.
2. Rich in Antioxidants and Anti-inflammatory Compounds
The high concentration of plant compounds in cherries may be responsible for this fruit's many health benefits.
Though the amount and type can vary depending on the variety, all cherries are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
This high antioxidant content may help combat oxidative stress, a condition that is linked to multiple chronic diseases and premature aging (5 Trusted Source).
In fact, one review found that eating cherries effectively reduced inflammation in 11 out of 16 studies and markers of oxidative stress in 8 out of 10 studies (6 Trusted Source).
These stone fruits also contain carotenoid pigments like beta-carotene and vitamin C, both of which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as well (6 Trusted Source).
All cherries are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which may reduce chronic disease risk and promote overall health.
3. Can Boost Exercise Recovery
Tart cherries and their juice seem to be more effective than sweet varieties, though both may aid athletes.
Tart cherry juice and concentrate have been found to accelerate muscle recovery, decrease exercise-induced muscle pain, and prevent strength loss in elite athletes, such as cyclists and marathon runners (6 Trusted Source).
Additionally, some evidence suggests that cherry products may enhance exercise performance.
A study in 27 endurance runners demonstrated that those who consumed 480 mg of powdered tart cherries daily for 10 days before a half-marathon averaged 13% faster race times and experienced less muscle soreness than a placebo group (10 Trusted Source).
Though most studies exploring the links between cherries and exercise involve trained athletes, tart cherry juice may benefit non-athletes as well.
A study in 20 active women noted that those who drank 2 ounces (60 ml) of tart cherry juice twice daily for 8 days recovered quicker and had less muscle damage and soreness after completing repeated sprint exercises, compared to the placebo group (11 Trusted Source).
Though promising, these findings are related to concentrated cherry products, such as juice and powder. It's unclear how many fresh cherries you would need to eat to produce similar results.
Consuming cherries, especially tart cherry products like juice and powder, may improve athletic performance and reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and soreness.
4. May Benefit Heart Health
Increasing your intake of nutrient-dense fruits like cherries is a tasty way to protect your heart.
Many studies show that diets rich in fruits are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease (12 Trusted Source).
Cherries are particularly beneficial in this regard, as they're rich in nutrients and compounds that are known to promote heart health, including potassium and polyphenol antioxidants.
Just 1 cup (154 grams) of pitted, sweet cherries provides 10% of the DV for potassium, a mineral that is essential for keeping your heart healthy.
This is why higher intakes of potassium have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke (14 Trusted Source).
What's more, cherries are rich in powerful polyphenol antioxidants, including anthocyanins, flavonols, and catechins, which may help keep your heart healthy by protecting against cellular damage and reducing inflammation (15 Trusted Source).
In fact, a study in 84,158 people found that higher intakes of polyphenols — especially anthocyanins, flavonols, and catechins — were associated with a significantly decreased risk of heart disease over 5 years (16 Trusted Source).
Cherries are packed with potassium and polyphenol antioxidants, which have powerful heart-protective properties.
5. May Improve Symptoms of Arthritis and Gout
Due to their potent anti-inflammatory effects, cherries may reduce symptoms of arthritis and gout, a type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid that can lead to extreme swelling, inflammation, and pain in your joints.
Many studies show that cherries help inhibit oxidative stress and decrease inflammation by suppressing inflammatory proteins, which can help reduce symptoms related to arthritis.
Plus, they can decrease uric acid levels in your body, making them especially beneficial for those with gout.
A study in 10 women found that eating 2 servings (10 ounces or 280 grams) of sweet cherries after an overnight fast lowered levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) and significantly reduced uric acid levels 5 hours after consumption (17 Trusted Source).
Another study in 633 people with gout demonstrated that those who ate fresh cherries over 2 days had 35% fewer gout attacks than those who did not consume the fruit.
Additionally, the study revealed that when cherry intake was combined with the gout medication allopurinol, gout attacks were 75% less likely than during periods when neither cherries or allopurinol were consumed (18 Trusted Source).
Research indicates that the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of cherries may benefit those with arthritis and gout.
6. May Improve Sleep Quality
Eating cherries or drinking tart cherry juice may help improve your sleep quality.
These sleep-promoting benefits may be attributed to the fruit's high concentration of plant compounds. Additionally, cherries contain melatonin, a substance that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle (19 Trusted Source).
A study in 20 people showed that those who drank tart cherry juice concentrate for 7 days experienced significant increases in melatonin levels, sleep duration, and sleep quality, compared to a placebo (19 Trusted Source).
Similarly, a 2-week study in older adults with insomnia found that drinking 1 cup (240 ml) of tart cherry juice before bed increased sleep time by 84 minutes (20 Trusted Source).
However, these studies use concentrated cherry products. It's unclear whether eating fresh cherries before bed would have the same effect.
Ultimately, more studies are needed to better understand how consuming cherries and cherry products may benefit sleep.
Cherries contain anti-inflammatory compounds and melatonin, which may help improve sleep quality in some people.
7. Easy to Add to Your Diet
Cherries are versatile and incredibly delicious.
Both sweet and tart varieties pair well with many foods. Plus, related products, such as dried cherries, cherry powder, and cherry juice, make interesting additions to many recipes.
Here are some ways to incorporate cherries into your diet:
- Enjoy them fresh as a sweet snack.
- Pair dried cherries with dark chocolate chips, unsweetened coconut flakes, and salted almonds for a delicious homemade trail mix.
- Make a cherry compote out of frozen tart or sweet cherries and spoon on yogurt, oatmeal, or chia pudding.
- Add halved, pitted cherries to a fruit salad.
- Incorporate dried cherries into baked goods for a kick of natural sweetness.
- Add a bit of tart cherry juice to sparkling water and top with a lemon wedge for a fun mocktail.
- Add fresh or cooked cherries to ice cream, pies, crumbles, and other desserts.
- Make a homemade cherry barbecue sauce to use with meat or poultry dishes.
- Whip up a cherry salsa with diced cherries and fresh herbs like basil to serve alongside savory meals.
- Add frozen cherries to your favorite smoothie.
The possibilities for using cherries in your kitchen are endless, so don't be afraid to experiment.
Cherries can be used in many ways in both sweet and savory recipes.
The Bottom Line
Cherries are highly nutritious and offer a host of health benefits.
Not only do they contain an array of powerful plant compounds that can help reduce inflammation, but eating them may improve sleep, boost heart health, and speed recovery after exercise.
What's more, both sweet and tart varieties are absolutely delicious and can be used in diverse recipes.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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By Lindsey Schneider, Joshua Sbicca and Stephanie Malin
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is novel, but pandemic threats to indigenous peoples are anything but new. Diseases like measles, smallpox and the Spanish flu have decimated Native American communities ever since the arrival of the first European colonizers.
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History Reverberates on Native Lands<p>Native communities in North America have been disrupted and displaced for centuries. Many face long-standing food and water <a href="http://www.nativepartnership.org/site/DocServer/2017-PWNA-NPRA-Food-Insecurity-Project-Grow.pdf?docID=7106" target="_blank">inequities</a> that are further complicated by this pandemic.</p><p>On the Navajo reservation, which covers more than 27,000 square miles in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, 76% of households already <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235390130_High_levels_of_household_food_insecurity_on_the_Navajo_Nation" target="_blank">have trouble affording enough healthy food</a>, and the nearest grocery store is often hours away. COVID-related restrictions have further curtailed access to food supplies.</p><p>Clean water for basic sanitary measures like hand-washing is also scarce. Native Americans are <a href="http://uswateralliance.org/sites/uswateralliance.org/files/Closing%20the%20Water%20Access%20Gap%20in%20the%20United%20States_DIGITAL.pdf" target="_blank">19 times more likely</a> to lack indoor plumbing than whites in the U.S. Nearly one-third of Navajo households <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/coronavirus-hits-indian-country-hard-exposing-infrastructure-disparities-n1186976" target="_blank">lack access to running water</a>.</p><p>Many <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6915e3.htm" target="_blank">health issues</a> that can increase COVID-19 mortality rates occur at high levels among Native Americans. These <a href="http://www.ncai.org/news/articles/2020/03/18/the-national-congress-of-american-indians-calls-for-more-attention-to-covid-19-impacts-to-indian-country" target="_blank">underlying</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30893-X" target="_blank">preexisting</a> conditions – things like hypertension, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease – are <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6913e2.htm" target="_blank">linked to diet</a> and stem from <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank">disruption and replacement</a> of Indigenous food systems.</p>
High Exposure Rates<p>These factors have clear health impacts. On the Navajo reservation, for instance, through May 27, 2020, <a href="https://www.navajo-nsn.gov/News%20Releases/OPVP/2020/May/FOR%20IMMEDIATE%20RELEASE%20-%201620%20recoveries_102%20new%20cases%20of%20COVID-19_and%20one%20more%20death%20reported.pdf" target="_blank">4,944 people</a> out of a population of 173,000 had tested positive for COVID-19, and 159 had died.</p><p>This infection rate per capita exceeds those in hot spots such as <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexandrasternlicht/2020/05/19/navajo-nation-has-most-coronavirus-infections-per-capita-in-us-beating-new-york-new-jersey/#11a4fac08b10" target="_blank">New York and New Jersey</a>. Importantly, however, it may also reflect a much <a href="https://www.sltrib.com/news/2020/04/19/navajo-nation-has-higher/" target="_blank">more proactive approach to testing</a> on reservations than in many other jurisdictions.</p><p>The fact that elderly people are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 could worsen the pandemic's effects in Indian Country. Elders are the <a href="https://ais.washington.edu/research/publications/spirits-our-whaling-ancestors" target="_blank">keepers of traditional knowledge, tribal languages and culture</a> – legacies whose loss already threatens the persistence of indigenous communities.</p><p>Elders also play key roles in preserving traditional plant and medicine knowledge. In the absence of COVID-19 interventions from Western medicine, many elders have been called on to perform healing practices, which increases their exposure risk.</p>
Little Help From Federal and State Governments<p>Many tribal members rely on the federal government's <a href="https://www.ihs.gov/" target="_blank">Indian Health Service</a> for health care. But <a href="https://theconversation.com/tribal-leaders-face-great-need-and-dont-have-enough-resources-to-respond-to-the-coronavirus-pandemic-134372" target="_blank">lack of capacity</a> at the agency has hampered its response. Budget shortfalls, <a href="https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/report-grossly-inaccurate-data-used-to-divvy-up-relief-funds-for-tribes-9qkkHmeXj0uhRC42mXYqCA" target="_blank">inaccurate data</a>, the challenges of providing <a href="https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/coronavirus-risk-is-compounded-by-the-rural-DC-rMTUzzE6WDGee8jbENQ" target="_blank">rural health care</a> and ongoing personnel shortages in IHS clinics are compounded by staff being <a href="https://navajotimes.com/reznews/dikos-ntsaaigii-doodaa-nation-musters-defense-against-covid-19/" target="_blank">pulled away</a> to fight the virus in large cities.</p><p>And while many states have raised frustrations with the Trump administration's unwillingness to distribute protective supplies from the <a href="https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/4/3/21206170/us-emergency-stockpile-jared-kushner-almost-empty-coronavirus-medical-supplies-ventilators" target="_blank">dwindling national stockpile</a>, IHS and tribal health care authorities <a href="https://www.azpm.org/p/home-articles-news/2020/3/17/167874-bill-calls-for-more-tribal-community-access-to-federal-stockpile-of-medical-supplies/" target="_blank">never had access</a> to the stockpile at all.</p><p>Although the federal government has begun <a href="https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/05/22/hhs-announces-500-million-distribution-to-tribal-hospitals-clinics-and-urban-health-centers.html" target="_blank">distributing relief funds</a> to IHS agencies, there have been serious problems with the accompanying supplies. The Navajo Nation has received <a href="https://www.indianz.com/News/2020/05/22/propublica-former-trump-aide-provided-fa.asp" target="_blank">faulty masks</a>, and a Seattle Native health center asked for tests but <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/native-american-health-center-asked-covid-19-supplies-they-got-n1200246" target="_blank">received body bags instead</a>.</p><p>Meanwhile, federally imposed limits on tribal sovereignty have obstructed tribal governments' efforts to deal with the pandemic themselves. Federal and state governments are <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/makah-tribe-fights-coronavirus-with-self-reliance-and-extreme-isolation/" target="_blank">challenging tribes' jurisdictional authority</a> to <a href="https://www.azfamily.com/news/mayor-of-page-accused-of-racist-social-media-comment-toward-navajo-nation-president/article_e2e6efd6-8db4-11ea-a8a2-7f6976d702f6.html" target="_blank">close borders to tourists</a> who may carry the virus. South Dakota's governor has <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/14/sioux-coronavirus-roadblocks-south-dakota-governor" target="_blank">threatened legal action</a> against two tribes who set up checkpoints to monitor incoming traffic on their reservations.</p>
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Environmental Injustices on Native Land<p>Energy development and resource extraction have had <a href="https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/898-all-our-relations" target="_blank">disproportionate impacts</a> on tribes for many years. Today, many Native American leaders worry that ongoing energy production – <a href="https://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/covid-19-essential-workers-in-the-states.aspx" target="_blank">an "essential" activity under federal guidelines</a> will bring outsiders into close contact with reservation communities, worsening COVID risks.</p><p>The owners of the Keystone XL oil pipeline have announced that they intend to continue construction, which will bring an influx of workers along the proposed route through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota and Fort Belknap Indian community in Montana have filed for a <a href="https://www.narf.org/keystone-xl/" target="_blank">temporary restraining order</a>, and a key permit for the pipeline was <a href="https://www.democracynow.org/2020/4/16/headlines/us_judge_revokes_crucial_permit_for_keystone_xl_pipeline" target="_blank">revoked in April 2020</a>, but work continues at the U.S.-Canada border.</p><p>Construction is accelerating on the <a href="https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/border-issues/2020/03/17/border-patrol-waives-laws-border-wall-construction-southern-arizona/5063618002/" target="_blank">southern border wall</a>, which bisects the <a href="http://www.tonation-nsn.gov/" target="_blank">Tohono O'odham reservation</a> in Arizona and Mexico. The Trump administration has <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/border-coronavirus-military-immigration/" target="_blank">increased patrols at the border</a>, despite the tribe's concern that the patrols' presence is <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/04/06/coronavirus-cbp-160-cases-covid-19-officers-agents/2958736001/" target="_blank">spreading coronavirus</a> on the reservation.</p><p>And in Bristol Bay, Alaska, a salmon fishing season that brings in thousands of temporary workers is <a href="https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/it-s-hard-when-you-love-something-xlS49l2N20KZjqumwfzZfQ" target="_blank">set to open in June</a> because the federal government has also deemed commercial fishing "<a href="https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/CISA-Guidance-on-Essential-Critical-Infrastructure-Workers-1-20-508c.pdf" target="_blank">essential critical infrastructure</a>." Many local Native villages depend on the fishery for income, but have nonetheless pleaded with state regulators to <a href="https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/urgent-calls-to-close-the-massive-bristol-bay-fishery-8lYsGkUeDUyCBW7FMwpSfA?fbclid=IwAR1710u4rQnriq_MgH2ueQxOFtfGiGiH8I2ZdJRCZS9f28Zl-JNkPLpnzZo" target="_blank">cancel the season</a>. The regional hospital has just four beds for possible COVID-19 patients.</p>
Bold Action in Native Communities<p>Native communities are taking decisive action to reduce the spread of COVID-19. They're imposing aggressive <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/09/us/coronavirus-navajo-nation.html" target="_blank">quarantine</a> measures like lockdowns, curfews and border closures. Communities are <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/18/covidcoronavirus-native-american-lummi-nation-trailblazing-steps" target="_blank">ramping up health care capacity</a> and elder support services, and banishing nontribal members who <a href="https://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/oglala-sioux-council-banishes-non-member-with-covid-19-from-reservation/article_60b665c3-9d1b-5d48-a576-51774e4fb41a.html" target="_blank">violate travel restrictions</a>.</p><p>Other strategies include helping hunters <a href="https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/ammo-fuel-for-hunters-to-feed-others-Ki3zK6du-ky-UogoB9-aNQ" target="_blank">provide traditional foods</a> to their communities, <a href="https://ndncollective.org/indigenizing-and-decolonizing-community-care-in-response-to-covid-19/" target="_blank">mobilizing to support tribal health care workers</a>, and <a href="https://www.ehn.org/coronavirus-native-americans-2645923635.html" target="_blank">linking the pandemic and the climate crisis</a>. Looking ahead to a post-COVID future, we believe one priority should be attending to <a href="http://www.beacon.org/As-Long-as-Grass-Grows-P1445.aspx" target="_blank">front-line environmental justice struggles</a> that center tribes' sovereignty to act on their own behalf at all times, not just during national crises.</p>
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