Exploring the Advantages of Cherries

The rich array of nutrients and bioactive components in cherries underpin their preventive health properties.


11/21/20235 min read

red cherry fruits on white ceramic bowl
red cherry fruits on white ceramic bowl

Cherries have gained popularity due to their delectably sweet and juicy characteristics, and emerging research continues to unveil their extensive health benefits. What exactly are the advantages of cherries, and what sets cherry nutrition apart as highly beneficial?

The rich array of nutrients and bioactive components in cherries underpin their preventive health properties. A comprehensive review from 2018, featured in the journal Nutrients summarized findings from 29 published human studies exploring the positive impacts of cherry consumption. The research revealed that integrating cherries and cherry-based products into one's diet resulted in reduction of oxidative stress, inflammation, exercise-induced muscle soreness and loss of strength, LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, arthritis symptoms, and sleep disturbances.

Cherries' benefits stem from their abundant antioxidants that combat free radical damage and safeguard cellular health. Recent studies also suggest that cherries contribute to reducing excess body fat and enhancing the production of melatonin, thus supporting a healthy sleep cycle 1.

Next time you're perusing the grocery store aisles, consider picking up some fresh, frozen, or dried cherries to experience their myriad health advantages. Not only do they offer fantastic flavor, but they also deliver a substantial nutritional boost.

Understanding Cherries

Cherries are fruits belonging to the genus Prunus, with two prominent types: those derived from the Prunus avium (sweet or wild cherry) and those from the Prunus cerasus (sour cherry). (Another variety is the acerola cherry.)

These edible cherries are identifiable by their distinctive flower clusters and smooth fruit, and they flourish in the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with two species in America, three in Europe, and the remaining species in Asia.

Factors such as irrigation, spraying, manual labor, and susceptibility to damage from rain and hail contribute to the relatively high cost of cherries, yet the demand for this fruit remains robust.

Cherries typically reach their peak season during the summer months. In several regions of North America, cherries are among the first tree fruits to ripen, while in Australia and New Zealand, they are closely associated with Christmas as they reach their peak in late December.

In the United States, most sweet cherries are cultivated in Washington, California, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Michigan, while sour cherries are primarily grown in Michigan, New York, Utah, and Washington.

Cherry Nutrition Insights

Among the numerous benefits of cherries is their status as a nutrient-dense food, featuring an abundance of anthocyanins, quercetin, hydroxycinnamates, potassium, carotenoids, and melatonin.

Furthermore, cherries represent a rich source of dietary fiber and an excellent provider of vitamin C. Sweet cherries also boast a relatively low glycemic index of 22, surprisingly lower than that of apricots, grapes, peaches, blueberries, and plums.

A one-cup serving of raw sweet cherries (approximately 138 grams) offers the following nutritional content:

  • Calories: 87

  • Total Carbohydrates: 22.1 g

    • Fiber: 2.9 g

    • Sugar: 17.7 g

  • Total Fat: 0.3 g

    • Saturated Fat: 0.1 g

    • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1 g

    • Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1 g

    • Trans Fat: 0 g

  • Protein: 1.5 g

  • Sodium: 0 mg

  • Vitamin C: 9.7 mg (11% DV)

  • Potassium: 306 mg (7% DV)

A one-cup serving of raw, pitted sour cherries (about 103 grams) provides the following nutritional value:

  • Calories: 52

  • Total Carbohydrates: 12.6 g

    • Fiber: 1.7 g

    • Sugar: 8.7 g

  • Total Fat: 0.3 g

    • Saturated Fat: 0.1 g

    • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1 g

    • Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1 g

    • Trans Fat: 0 g

  • Protein: 1 g

  • Sodium: 3.1 mg (0.1% DV)

  • Vitamin C: 10.3 mg (11% DV)

  • Potassium: 178 mg (4% DV)

*Percentages are based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day.

Exploring Cherries' Benefits

1. Supporting Weight Management

Aside from being low in calories, cherries have been indicated in research to aid in lowering blood lipid levels. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Medical Food revealed that rats receiving whole tart cherry powder as part of a high-fat diet for 90 days showed less weight gain and accumulation of body fat compared to rats not given cherries. This intake was associated with decreased blood lipid levels, reduced percentage of body fat, and decreased abdominal fat mass.

Moreover, the blood profiles of the rats exhibited significantly lower inflammation levels, a factor linked to conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. By incorporating tart cherry juice or cherry supplements into your routine, you may reduce inflammation and lipid concentrations in the blood, which are linked to heart complications and weight gain.

  1. Supports Heart Health

    Cherries are rich in antioxidants that have been shown to enhance cardiovascular health. Research conducted at the University of Michigan indicates that tart cherries can activate peroxisome proliferator activating receptors (PPARs) in various tissues throughout the body. These receptors play a role in regulating genes involved in fat and glucose metabolism, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, the anthocyanins and fiber in cherries contribute to heart health by lowering metabolic risk factors, improving LDL cholesterol levels, and benefiting glucose metabolism. Moreover, studies have revealed that supplementing with dark sweet cherry juice can lead to reduced blood pressure and inflammation, further promoting heart health.

  2. Rich Source of Antioxidants

    Cherries contain powerful antioxidants such as anthocyanins and cyanidin, which play a crucial role in combating free radicals and preventing oxidative damage. The presence of these antioxidants also exhibits anti-inflammatory activity, potentially surpassing traditional medications. Furthermore, the antioxidant properties of cherries have been linked to inhibiting tumor development as well as protecting against age-associated vision problems like macular degeneration and glaucoma.

  3. Aid in Gout Management

    For individuals suffering from gout, cherry supplementation has been shown to reduce uric acid buildup and limit gout attacks. Studies have demonstrated that incorporating cherries into the diet can significantly lower the risk of gout attacks, especially when used in combination with prescribed medications for gout and kidney stones.

  4. Reduces Inflammation

    Cherries are recognized as one of the top anti-inflammatory foods and have been found to minimize muscle damage and pain caused by strenuous exercise. Consuming cherries has been associated with reducing post-exercise muscle pain and decreasing inflammation, potentially due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, cherries have been shown to inhibit inflammatory pathways and lower plasma urate levels, representing a promising approach to managing inflammation.

The rewritten text has a neutral tone and is presented in English.### High Potassium Content

Consuming a cup of cherries provides a significant portion of your recommended daily value of potassium, an essential mineral for the proper functioning of several organs including the heart, kidneys, brain, and muscular tissues. Cherries not only help reduce the risk of stroke, alleviate hypertension and high blood pressure, and lower muscle cramping, but they also contribute to improving muscle strength.

During pregnancy, cherries can be particularly beneficial as they supply the necessary potassium to help maintain fluid and chemical balance as blood volume expands.

Potential Treatment for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, can be alleviated by consuming tart cherry juice, as suggested by research studies. A study conducted at the Osteoarthritis Research Center showed that drinking tart cherry juice led to a significant reduction in osteoarthritis symptoms, as indicated by reduced Western Ontario McMaster Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) scores and decreased high sensitivity scores.

Additionally, a study published in the journal Cell Stress & Chaperones revealed that osteoarthritis patients experienced less joint pain after receiving sour topical cherry seed extract, a potent protectant against oxidative stress.

Support for Sleep Cycle

Tart cherry juice is high in phytochemicals, including melatonin, which plays a critical role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Consumption of tart cherry juice concentrate was shown to significantly elevate melatonin content and improve sleep quality, indicating its potential to benefit individuals with disrupted sleep patterns or insomnia.

Traditional Medicinal Uses

Cherries have long been recognized in Traditional Chinese Medicine for their ability to build qi, improve blood circulation, and relieve exhaustion and fatigue. They are also believed to strengthen the spleen, aid in digestion, rejuvenate the body, and stimulate appetite. Furthermore, cherries are valued for their high antioxidant content, which can help alleviate conditions related to inflammation such as gout, arthritis, and fibromyalgia.

In addition to their nutritional benefits, cherries are commonly available in various forms, including fresh, frozen, dried, and as juice. They can be incorporated into a variety of dishes and also preserved for consumption off-season.