Cherry has always been associated with confectioneries and desserts throughout the centuries, claiming its title as the “most romantic fruit”. With its pleasant look and wonderful flavor, cherry is extensively used as the main ingredient, flavoring, or simply a topper in many recipes all over the world. However, the fruit is more than just a cake or ice cream topper or something that only adds aesthetic to the dish, as it also bursts with nutrition that can significantly improve your overall wellness. Both sweet and tart cherries have been linked to potent therapeutic qualities that help remedy and combat illnesses. So, what are the health benefits of cherry that can turn your life around for the better?
Cherry is a nutrient-dense fruit that offers protection from various illnesses and chronic diseases.
Numerous research has already proven that the low-calorie and nutrient-dense cherry aids in burning fat, supporting your weight loss and management plans. The fruit features high levels of essential minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients that are found to improve your digestion and vision, as well as your immune system, warding off different forms of infections and diseases. Cherry is also chock-full of antioxidant compounds that don’t only fight early signs of skin aging but also fight certain types of cancer cell formation. Read on to learn more about the major health advantages of this delicious natural food.
What is Cherry?
Cherry, scientific name Prunus avium, is an edible fruit of the several flowering plant species in the Rosaceae or rose family, along with other economically important foods like apples, peaches, plums, pears, apricots, blackberries, and strawberries. The term cherry can also refer to the tree, where the fruit comes from, and its wood.
Archaeologists revealed that cherry trees already existed in prehistoric times, as they found fossilized fruit pits in many caves throughout Asia and Europe. The earliest recorded evidence of cherry domestication can be found in Theophrastus’ History of Plants, which was written in 300 B.C.E. In the 1600s, the fruit had widely spread in other countries through European colonists. Cherry got its name from Cerasus, a town in Turkey, which remains the largest cherry–producing place on the planet.
Both tart and sweet cherry, although differ in taste, contain natural benefits for your total health.
Botanically speaking, cherry is considered a drupe, as it has a central stone-hard seed that is enveloped by a fleshy pulp. The tiny fruit can grow up to 2 cm in diameter only, taking a round or heart shape. It typically features a thin, bright, and shiny peel, with varying color, texture, and flavor depending on its cultivar. Although there are more or less 1,200 varieties of cherries, the most sought types are the sweet or wild cherry and tart or sour cherry, both of which are remarkably delicious and full of health-benefiting substances.
Both the tart and sweet cherry are harvested during the warm season months, so extremely fresh cherries are best bought during July to August. Tart cherry, also called sour or red cherry, presents a bright red color that stays even when the fruit is juiced, dried, or frozen. It is usually employed in baked goods, such as pies, cakes, and muffins, as its low sugar content does not interfere with other ingredients’ sweetness. Meanwhile, sweet cherry is quite dark, ranging from purple to black. With its naturally rich sugar, sweet cherry is much sweeter and best enjoyed raw and fresh.
Nutritional Benefits of Cherry
What are the Health Benefits of Cherry?
Comprehensive research presented that both tart and sweet cherry possess powerful antioxidant properties that actively reduce oxidative stress. While the fruit contains plenty of antioxidant vitamin C, carotenoids, and flavonoids, its anthocyanin compound is the primary agent that neutralizes free radicals, protecting you from chronic ailments like neurodegeneration, cardiovascular issue, aging, vision and hair loss, and even cancer.
Heightened oxidative stress can contribute to the progression of several chronic inflammatory conditions. The good thing is the rich anthocyanins in cherry work like a legitimate anti-inflammatory drug, effectively blocking inflammatory enzymes and cytokines and stabilizing them. These notable properties can lessen the pain and other associated symptoms of inflammation-related risks like gout arthritis, muscle injuries, heart problems, and many more.
Along with its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory benefits, cherry’s diverse phytonutrients also boost your immune system by inducing protection against pathogenic bacteria, viruses, algae, and fungi, especially those that attack the colon, intestines, urinary tract, and other excretory organs. Furthermore, the antimicrobial properties of the fruit inhibit the growth of oral or salivary bacteria like K. pneumoniae and E. coli.
Major Health Benefits of Cherry
1. The nutritious cherry can boost your immunity
The health-giving components in cherry include dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin C, carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, and special compounds like tryptophan, serotonin, and melatonin, all of which particularly support your immune system function. With these antioxidant and antimicrobial nutrients, drinking cherry juice a few times a week helps you avoid flu, coughs, fevers, and infections.
2. It can relieve muscle inflammation and pain
If you are an athlete or just love working out, then cherry is the best fruit for you. Its vitamins C and E, carotenoids, melatonin, and polyphenols all contribute to reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the muscles. Furthermore, anthocyanins in the fruit aid in alleviating exercise-induced muscle pain, as well as the loss of strength.
3. Cherry eases symptoms of arthritis
Studies have shown that eating cherries, fresh or canned, lessened attacks of arthritis symptoms and normalized the uric acid levels, giving them greater freedom in moving their finger and toe joints. Their very useful anthocyanin acts like an anti-inflammatory drug and hinders the activities of pro-inflammatory cyclooxygenase-1 and-2 enzymes.
4. Mineral-rich cherry offers heart protection
Along with its antioxidant nutrients, cherry contains excellent amounts of minerals, such as copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc, which exhibit great cardioprotective activities. Aside from combating your heart from oxidative damages, these compounds reduce both blood pressure and cholesterol, limit blood vessels from hardening, and strengthen cardiac muscles.
5. It decreases your risk of diabetes
Regular consumption of either tart or sweet cherry has been associated with a decreased risk of diabetes, as the fruit’s anthocyanins are found to lower and regulate the blood and liver glucose levels while increasing the production of insulin in the body.
6. Dietary cherry consumption prevents cancer
A scientific report presents that dietary cherry supplementation has promising preventive effects against the development of the different forms of cancer. The fundamental compounds responsible for this amazing benefit are the phenolic antioxidants, including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, fiber, cyanidin, and anthocyanins. Tart cherries, in particular, reduce your risk of colon and breast cancers.
7. It alleviates insomnia, stress, and depression
Cherry owns good amounts of antioxidant melatonin, a hormone that soothes brain neurons and calms down brain irritability, thereby relieving headaches, insomnia, and neurosis, especially in older individuals. Its carotenoids and flavonoids nutrients are shown to improve your brain functions like memory and cognition by scavenging free radicals. Cherry also has vitamin A, B-vitamin complex, phosphorus, and calcium that help ease anxiety, depression, stress, and nervous disorders.
8. Cherry fruit cures and lessens constipation
The fiber and acids present in cherry fruits help in better digestion and keep other digestive functions in order, efficiently curing and alleviating constipation. Their flavonoid content stimulates the production of gastric juices used for breaking down bile, food particles, fats, and vitamins so the body could properly absorb and utilize them.
9. Cherry offers amazing eye care
Cherry is full of antioxidant beta-carotene and vitamin A, which are the two main nutrients for maintaining healthy vision. These compounds protect your eye from free radicals damages, reduce any inflammation, and maintain ocular pressure, outstandingly decreasing your risk of eye dryness, vision loss, and age-related macular degeneration.
10. It enhances your skin health
Enjoying a glass of cherry juice once a day is known to restore and rejuvenate skin cells, effectively clearing dark spots and lightening your skin tone. The fruit’s anthocyanins help slow down the aging process of your skin through battling free radicals and reducing inflammation. Also, with its ability to induce a good night’s sleep, your system gets more time to regenerate, resulting in more radiant and glowing skin.
How to Prepare
Cherry is a versatile fruit that you can relish any time of the day. To prepare them, remove their stalks and gently wash them in cold water. Then, pat them dry using a soft cloth. As much as possible, consume your ripe cherries whole, raw, and unpeeled to get their maximum health benefits.
Here are some easy and quick serving ideas on how to enjoy your deliciously nutritious cherry:
- Add fresh and whole or sliced cherries in your favorite fruit cocktail and salad preparations along with other delectable fruits like grapes, apricots, pears, peaches, and pineapples.
- Use cherries for various desserts, fruit-cakes, pie fillings, and other toaster and oven pastries like bread, cookies, and muffins.
- Top your baked dish with fresh cherries to improve its flavor and nutritional value.
- Have a delightful tart cherry juice after finishing your workout routine or daily workload.
How to Select and Store
Selection: The cherry season generally lasts from late May until early August in the western world. To ensure freshness, select cherries that bear a brightly-colored, shiny skin with their green stalks still firmly attached on top of each fruit. Avoid those with bruises, cuts, and discoloration.
Storage: Cherry fruit, whether tart or sweet, is highly perishable so it is recommended to eat or use them as soon as you get home from the market. But if necessary, put your cherries inside a plastic pouch before placing them in the refrigerator to last for about three days to a week.
Possible Risks and Complications
Ingesting cherry is highly unlikely to induce serious adverse effects unless you are allergic to the fruit. However, its rich fiber content may cause abdominal cramps, intestinal gas, and bloating, especially if the fruit is taken in excessive amounts over a short period.
The pretty-looking and vibrantly smooth cherries have been proven to own high levels of antioxidants, flavonoids, phenolic acids, fiber, minerals, vitamins, and other important nutrients that work together to strengthen your body’s defense against free radical damages and aggressive pathogenic infections. Their increasing popularity is a sign that cherries are being utilized by many people to treat and prevent different forms of chronic diseases like muscle soreness and inflammation, arthritis, diabetes, constipation, heart ailments, vision loss, insomnia, stress, depression, and cancers.
How do you best enjoy your cherry fruits? Share your health journey experiences with us in the comment box below!