From Regulating Blood Pressure to Healthy Skin, Why You Need Cherries in Your Life6 years ago | Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws JD, Founder
Cherries. They are probably one of the cutest, smallest fruits out there, but they pack an incredible amount of nutritional power. There are roughly 1,000 types of cherries grown worldwide, and about 10 types are grown commercially in the United States.
Sweet cherries, such as the popular Bing cherry, are normally eaten raw. Sour (or tart) cherries, sometimes referred to as pie cherries, are often used in baking and cooking, as they develop more in flavor when cooked. But let’s take a closer look at some of the nutritional benefits in one cup of pitted Bing cherries.
Cherries may help prevent cancer.
- Fiber, 3.2 gm. The American Institute for Cancer Research states cherries are high in dietary fiber, which lowers the risk of colorectal cancer. “Consuming high amounts of dietary fiber may also help people control their weight by giving a feeling of fullness. That is important to cancer risk because excess body fat increases the risk of eleven cancers,” says the Institute. According to their research, cherries also contain compounds called anthocyanins, which inhibit the growth of cancer cells and encourage their self-destruction without harming healthy cells. These compounds also have anti-inflammatory and strong antioxidant properties, both of which help prevent cancer.
- Calcium, 20 mg. Adequate calcium may also decrease your risk for colorectal cancer. Recent studies confirm high calcium intake is associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer among both men and women. Maintaining the correct levels of calcium in your system may also reduce risk of breast cancer.
Cherries may help with weight management.
- Magnesium, 17 mg. Studies with rats have shown a low level of the mineral magnesium can slow down growth of lean body mass (muscle and bone building) and promote an increase in body fat. This may be due to the body’s need for magnesium in so many different functions, more than 300 according to the National Institutes of Health.
- Phosphorus, 32 mg. This mineral may be a key factor in preventing obesity. A study in Lebanon showed that phosphorus supplements in a small group (63 people) for just 12 weeks significantly decreased body weight, BMI, waist circumference and subjective appetite scores.
Cherries may help regulate blood pressure.
- Potassium, 342 mg. This must-have mineral works with sodium to balance the fluids and electrolytes in the body. Potassium helps keep blood pressure under control and may even help reduce kidney stones and bone loss as you age.
- According to UC Davis School of Medicine, adding 45 Bing cherries to your daily diet can help lower indicators for a variety of inflammatory diseases including high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These cherries also contain no sodium, which is great if you need to watch your salt intake.
Cherries may help protect your vision.
- Lutein & Zeaxanthin, 131 mcg. These are two carotenoids and antioxidants that concentrate in eye tissue. According to the American Optometric Association, “[l]utein and zeaxanthin filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and help protect and maintain healthy cells in the eyes. Of the 600 carotenoids found in nature, only these two are deposited in high quantities in the retina (macula) of the eye.”
- Quercetin. Cherries also contain quercetin, another antioxidant that aids in eye health.
Cherries may help with beauty & skin health.
- Beta-carotene, 59 mcg. You have likely heard carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a red/orange pigment found in a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The human body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A. This vitamin is a great anti-ager and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin A also helps protect your vision.
- Zinc, 0.11mg. This mineral has shown some promise as a treatment for acne. In one study, taking zinc was associated with a 30 percent decrease in the number of acne lesions. This is logical because of zinc’s anti-infective properties, and acne is an infection of the skin.
- Vitamin C, 10.8 mg. This vitamin can help you build and maintain collagen. You lose collagen as you age, which weakens the elasticity of the skin. With its antioxidant properties, vitamin C helps protect the skin against free radicals we are all exposed to in the environment. This vitamin also promotes strong, healthy hair and nails. And as you probably know, vitamin C is great at boosting your immune system and fighting off colds.
Cherries may help you sleep and prevent jet lag.
- Melatonin. Cherries, especially tart cherries, contain melatonin. Melatonin is a “sleep hormone” your body naturally produces. It is inactive during the day and starts to kick in after the sun goes down, around 9pm according to the National Sleep Foundation. If you have trouble sleeping and take melatonin supplements, taking a shot of natural cherry juice at night may be a good alternative. Melatonin may help reset your sleep and wake cycles, which can aid in alleviating jet lag.
Honestly, I have only scratched the surface on how good cherries are for your health, and it doesn’t hurt they are also delicious.
For complete nutritional value of cherries, click here. To learn more about the critical minerals found in cherries, read Minerals - The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy.
Cherries are in season now until around through early July. You can put cherries in the freezer for up to one year if you want to prolong the season. You can also refrigerate cherries up to 10 days.
Cherries are great eaten raw, or you can throw them in a smoothie. Check out how to make additional healthy meals with cherries here.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, health care attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here.