7 Health Benefits of Sweet Cherries

Wellness News

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Isn’t it the best when a seriously delicious food also happens to be really, really good for you? That’s the deal with sweet cherries. These juicy red fruits are the kind of thing you’ll want to keep popping in your mouth like candy. And considering all of the health benefits they provide, you can feel good about doing exactly that—especially during the summer when they’re at their seasonal peak. (Though freezing or drying sweet cherries is an easy way to indulge this yummy and healthy treat year-round.)

Here’s a look at all the impressive ways sweet cherries can give your body a boost. Grab your biggest bowl and dig in! 

1. They’re a healthy way to tame your sweet tooth.

Dark sweet and Rainier cherries are bursting with sweetness, but unlike a cookie or ice cream cone, these treats have zero added sugar. Sweet Northwest cherries also boast a low glycemic index (even compared to other fruits), which means their natural sugars are released into your bloodstream slowly. “Snacks that are lower glycemic don’t spike your blood sugar, so they help you get full faster and stay full longer,” explains Amy Goodson, MS, RD.

2. They’re a yummy way to get more fiber.

It’s not always easy to get the recommended 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. But with 3 grams of fiber per cup, these little fruits are a delicious way to get closer to your goal—and reap all of the benefits that come with it.

“Diets rich in fiber have been shown to promote a healthy body weight, improve gut health, reduce cholesterol and heart disease risk, and even promote improved blood glucose and insulin levels,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE.

3. They act like anti-inflammatories.

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Got achy muscles or joints? Sweet cherries just might become your new sweet source of pain relief. Research shows they’re rich in anthocyanins, a group of polyphenols that fight tissue inflammation the same way that meds like ibuprofen and naproxen do.

4. They’ve got covert cancer-fighting agents.

Oxidative stress and inflammation can raise the risk of diseases like cancer. But sweet cherries are rich in antioxidants like ellagic acid, anthocyanins, and vitamin C—which appear to offer some protection, says Goodson. Case in point? Eating 45 cherries daily for 28 days lowered levels of several harmful inflammatory markers, found one Journal of Nutrition study.

5. They can reduce the chance of gout attacks.

If you’re among the more than 8 million Americans who suffer from this painful form of arthritis, you may want to reach for sweet Northwest cherries more often. Gout is tied to higher levels of uric acid in the blood, but eating sweet cherries seems to help bring uric acid down. In fact, gout patients who ate three servings of cherries over two days (in conjunction with their regular medication) were up to 75 percent less likely to have a gout attack compared to those who didn’t eat the fruit, according to Boston University research.

6. They may keep your heart healthy.

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The anthocyanins in sweet cherries may be good for your ticker too. Research shows that these potent polyphenols can play a role in heart disease prevention by reducing inflammation and promoting healthy artery function. One American Heart Association study even tied higher anthocyanin intake to a lower risk of heart attacks in young and middle-aged women.

7. They offer better sleep in every bite.

Talk about a bedtime snack with benefits: Sweet cherries are a natural source of the hormone melatonin, which helps control your body’s internal clock and promote healthy sleep patterns, according to the National Sleep Foundation. In fact, a recent review suggests that eating 25 sweet cherries daily could help you snooze sounder—and longer—in just three days. For the biggest benefits, try eating sweet cherries shortly before turning in for the night, the National Sleep Foundation recommends.

For more on the health benefits of sweet cherries and the people who grow them, visit nwcherries.com.

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