Cherries come in many varieties – such as Dark Red or Yellow cherries. Certain types may posses superfood qualities. Montmorency cherries are the ones that have the most medicinal value. They posses anti-inflammatory qualities, are very rich in antioxidants and may aid in preventing and treating Gout. Due to their natural melatonin content, they can also help to treat insomnia, support recovery from jet lag and may encourage good sleep.
Benefits of Cherries
Encourages Sleep – Tart (sour) cherries are one of the very few foods that provide a significant amount of melatonin (a hormone produced by the body to regulate the sleep – wake cycle). Studies have shown that a glass of tart cherry juice (or capsules of dried cherry extract) before bedtime, can encourage good, sound sleep.
Reduces Blood Pressure – Drinking tart cherry juice helps to reduce high blood pressure according to this study (from Northumbria University). Participants who drank 60ml of cherry concentrate that was diluted with water, saw their blood pressure drop by 7 per cent within three hours.
Anti-inflammatory – Cherries are rich in powerful anti-oxidants, that are useful for fighting inflammation.They can also reduce post exercise pain (and inflammation) in athletes. A sports medicine specialist (Dr Kerry Kuehl) studied 55 runners and found that those who drank tart cherry juice while training for a long-distance run, had substantially less pain after exercise.
Gout and arthritic conditions – An inflammatory condition called Gout, that is related to arthritis, is caused by an excess accumulation of uric acid in the blood. Both tart (sour) and sweet cherries have been found to reduce the level of urates – therefore helping to treat gout, and reducing the risk of contracting it.
How to Use
Buy organic, fresh in season, and as local as possible for the most nutrients. Alternatively, fresh cherries can be pitted and frozen, to use throughout the year.
Dried Cherries – These can be added to cereals and yogurts, to provide extra nutrients and benefits.
Cherry Pie and Jam – As cherries do not lose their medicinal value when cooked, they are an ideal ingredient for jams, pies, strudels and other desserts.
Smoothies – Pitted cherries are a great nutrient boosting addition to smoothies.