Fruit and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet – they’re rich in vitamins and minerals and can help prevent heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
When it comes to getting your 5 A Day, adding cherries to your diet may provide an extra dose of goodness. Not only do they taste great, cherries are packed with nutrients – and some studies (though small, and using large volumes of cherries) suggest cherries may help improve certain health conditions.
Here’s a round-up of some of the potential health benefits of cherries.
Cherries are low in calories
A cup of pitted, raw cherries contains only 97 calories. Here’s what else you’ll get in that cup:
- 1.63g of protein
- less than 1g of fat
- about 25g of carbs
- just over 3g of fibre
- about 20g of natural sugar
Cherries are nutritious
Cherries are also a source of:
- vitamin C
- vitamin B6
- vitamin K
Cherries may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
Cherries are a good source of vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid), an antioxidant that can help protect our cells and keep them healthy.
Cherries also contain compounds called polyphenols, which can reduce inflammation and help protect against chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Cherries may help you sleep better
Did you know some foods can help you get a good night's sleep? One of these foods is cherries. In a small study, people who drank tart cherry juice concentrate for 7 days experienced an increase in levels of melatonin (the ‘sleep hormone’) and reported sleeping for longer and better.
Are cherries better dried, frozen or juiced?
The good news is that cherries are nutritious, whether you drink them or eat them fresh or dried – the bad news is that frozen and tinned cherries are lower in antioxidants.
Adding cherries to your diet
There are loads of ways to enjoy cherries, from blitzing them into smoothies to tossing them into fruit salad to snacking on them between meals. Cherries also make a tasty type of ice – just pop them in the freezer and use them to cool your favourite drink instead of ice cubes (don’t forget to eat them when your drink is finished).
If you’re picking your own cherries, make sure the stems are bright green and the cherries are plump and firm to the touch. Wash fresh cherries carefully as the skin can contain pesticides and other contaminants. Don’t chew or swallow cherry pits.
- cherries are low in calories
- they’re a good source of fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients
- cherries may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
- they may also help you sleep better, thanks to their melatonin content
- eat or drink fresh cherries rather than tinned or frozen, for maximum benefit