August 12, 2015

I'll Have Mine With a Cherry on Top

When it was my turn to pick a popsicle or a lollipop as I child, I always opted for the citrus flavors, but when I had to choose between the red flavors, strawberry won out every time. I have eaten the cherries you'd typically find on top of an ice cream sundae or in a Shirley Temple, but I don't believe I had ever actually eaten a cherry, in any form, until this past July!

While we were on vacation, one of my sisters-in-law came to visit and brought along a few snacks, including a bag of cherries. Because I was hungry and trying to be good, I ate some. Then I went back for seconds and the love affair began. Aside from the stem and pit situation (no, it's not very lady-like to spit pits across the room... although we did have a few pit spitting contests outside), I found I quite enjoyed eating them. Then she told me how they're a great sleep remedy and that sealed the deal. When I came home, I looked up the health benefits of cherries and here's what I found.

Cherries (specifically tart in some cases) are an often overlooked superfood that can help with everything from insomnia to joint pain and belly fat, and so much more.
  • "Cherries battle belly fat. Researchers found that tart cherries have significant weight management benefits for animals, including reduced belly fat. In the study, rats that received whole tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet didn't gain as much weight or build up as much body fat as rats that didn't receive cherries. Their blood also showed much lower levels of certain inflammation markers linked to heart disease and diabetes. And, in addition, they had significantly lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than their cherry-deprived counterparts." (Resource: Natasha Turner, ND)
  • A good workout stretches (actually damages) your muscles. And although many people like to feel the burn post-workout, you can significantly reduce muscle inflammation and soreness by drinking a cup of tart cherry juice or eating a cup and a half of tart cherries immediately after your workout.
  • If you're having trouble sleeping, drink one ounce of cherry juice 30 minutes after waking and 30 minutes before your evening meal helps boost melatonin levels. (Cherries are a good source of melatonin. Drink one half to one cup of juice an hour before bed.) They have also been found to help with jet lag. Note: there is a higher level of melatonin in tart cherries compared to sweet cherries.
  • "The Alzheimer's Association includes cherries as one of the memory boosting foods because they are rich in antioxidants." (Resource:
  • Speaking of antioxidants, cherries have the highest antioxidant level of any fruit, which aids the body in fighting free radicals that make us look old. According to Scientists from Michigan State University, drinking one daily glass of tart cherry juice slows down the again process and has been used to treat other skin conditions.
  • "Cherries are very high in potassium, which helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure and reduces the risk of hypertension. The phytosterols in cherries help reduce bad cholesterol levels." (Resource:

I've been trying to eat as many cherries as I can and I'm currently looking for a good brand of cherry juice. I'll keep you posted.

Update: I'm enjoying Lakewood Organic Tart Cherry juice each morning and night. 

Photos: lchunt and Care2