Surprising Health Benefits Of Eating Cherries

It's hard not to think about cherries without thinking about our favorite cherry-inspired desserts — cherry pie, cherry ice cream, and for the lovers of an old classic, cherries jubilee. Obviously, pairing anything with products like butter, heavy cream, and sugar makes them more appealing. But luckily for us, whether we eat cherries alone or smothered in all that extra goodness, there are surprising health benefits hidden within.

Jessica Cording, RD, nutritionist and author, tells Women's Health about the tiny fruit that should not be overlooked. "Cherries have a lot going for them from a nutritional standpoint," she explained. "Sure, they're tiny, but they have so much to offer." The stone fruit is typically found in all winter-cozy shades of red and is packed with nutrients. One cup of sweet, raw, pitted cherries provides nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium, copper, and magnesium, reports Healthline.

Another beautiful benefit of cherries is their anti-inflammatory powers. Cording explains to Women's Health, "One of the main things I like about cherries is that they're really high in antioxidants. The pigments that give cherries their great color also signify that they have a lot of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds." That deep red color is a sign of anthocyanins, which is a type of polyphenol that acts as an antioxidant in the body.

Cherries benefit both sleep and exercise

A wonderful night of sleep can be the best preparation for any day, and good news — cherries can help with your slumber. Tart cherries contain the helpful sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. Cording reveals to Women's Health, "Not a lot of foods contain melatonin, but tart cherries are an exception." Healthline supports this claim by sharing a study in which 20 people partook. Those who drank tart cherry juice concentrate for seven days experienced significant increases in melatonin levels, sleep duration, and sleep quality, compared to those who took the placebo.

Just like a good night's sleep, cherries can also be helpful in exercise recovery. Today's Dietician reports that the consumption of tart cherry juice has proven to improve the recovery of isometric muscle strength after an intensive workout, which helps decrease muscle damage and aids in muscle recovery. Nutritionist Sonya Angelone, RD, adds to the benefits, sharing with Women's Health that cherries may also help decrease soreness after exercise. 

Now that we know of all the surprising health benefits of this magnificent fruit, we believe cherries no longer need the help of a dessert association and can thrive on their own.