Cherries are one of my favorite fruits. With it being cherry season I have been eating them by the pound. Do they provide any health benefits?

Not only are cherries satisfying to eat, they provide a wealth of health benefits earning them the title of “Super Fruit”. Cherries have many important health benefits – from helping ease the pain of arthritis and gout, to reducing risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Cherries can be one of the recommended 5-9 daily servings of fruits/vegetables recommended for cancer prevention and decreased recurrence.  Cherries also contain melatonin, which has been found to help regulate the body’s natural sleep patterns, aid with jet lag, prevent memory loss and delay the aging process.

The cherry season runs mid May to mid August with June being the peak of the season, so summer is the perfect time to enjoy them fresh.   Even though the season is relatively short, they can be eaten all year round weather dried, frozen or as juice. Cherries have among the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants, when compared to other fruits. They also contain other important nutrients such as beta carotene (19 times more than blueberries or strawberries) vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate.

Cherries’ red color is provided by the fruit’s powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are responsible for providing the many health benefits stated above. They can reduce inflammation, total cholesterol, and can drastically reduce your risk for heart disease. With more than 80 million Americans living with some form of heart disease, the heart-healthy qualities of eating cherries are more relevant than ever. Anthocyanins can also help ease the pain of inflammatory-related conditions such as arthritis, and gout.   Cherries’ post-exercise benefits are good news for the increasing number of active adults who feel the aches and pain of post-exercise muscle soreness. These post-exercise benefits are likely because of the fruit’s natural anti-inflammation properties.

As of today there’s no established guideline on how many cherries it takes to reap the benefits, but the experts do suggest that 1-2 servings of cherries daily can help provide some of the health benefits identified in the research. Single serving size examples include:

• 1/2 cup dried
• 1 cup frozen or fresh
• 1 cup juice
• 1 ounce (or 2 Tbsp) juice concentrate