Cherries - the benefits of plant based food.
by Dr Raya GRISHINA-GUNN
Cherries are a small stone fruit that come in a variety of colours and flavours. All varieties are highly nutritious and packed with fibre, vitamins, and minerals. One cup (154 grams) of sweet, raw, pitted cherries provides only 97 calories but has
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 25 grams
- Fibre: 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 fibre, vitamin C, and potassium, benefit health in many ways.
Vitamin C is essential for maintaining immune system and skin health. Potassium is needed for muscle contraction, nerve function, blood pressure regulation, and healthy heart function.
Fibre, helps keep digestive system healthy by fuelling beneficial gut bacteria and promoting bowel regularity. Cherries also provide B vitamins, manganese, copper, magnesium, and vitamin K.
Research shows that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in cherries may help relieve exercise-induced muscle pain, damage, and inflammation. Therefore, Cherries can also boost exercise recovery. Cherries are packed with potassium and polyphenol antioxidants, which have powerful heart-protective properties. Research also indicates that the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of cherries may benefit those with arthritis and gout.
Cherries may help people sleep.
A recent study, found that people who had tart cherry juice before dinner had a significant boost in their levels of melatonin, the natural chemical that helps regulate sleep.
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.
Cherries also may help in the fight against neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s. A study by Central Michigan University researchers found that consuming tart cherries helped to slow down the disease process. A lot more research needs to be done, however the early signs are very promising.
In summary: Cherries are highly nutritious and offer a host of health benefits, eating them may improve sleep, boost heart health, decrease arthritis and gout, aids in digestion, may slow onset of Alzheimer’s disease and speed recovery after exercise.
What’s more, both sweet and tart varieties are absolutely delicious and can be used in diverse 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 almonds for a delicious homemade trail mix.
- Make a cherry compote out of frozen tart or sweet cherries and spoon on plant-based 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 pies, crumbles, and other desserts.
- Make a homemade cherry barbecue sauce to add to baked veggies.
- Whip up a cherry salsa with diced cherries and fresh herbs like basil to serve alongside savory meals.
- Try a traditional Ukrainian “Vareniki” They are boiled dumplings stuffed with cherries.
- Add frozen cherries to your favourite smoothie or eat them as a refreshing treat.