Cherries. They are beautiful. They are cheery little morsels that are sweet, but also tart. Have you ever thought about how a handful of cherries per day could be a dose of medicine that you are missing out on? As Hippocrates said: "Let food by thy medicine and let medicine by thy food."
Cherries are loaded with antioxidants. Tart cherries have properties that are different, and often more potent, than sweet cherries. Sweet cherries can be a delicious lower glycemic load snack (important for diabetics and others with insulin resistance), but when it comes to supplementing your diet with cherry juice, make it tart!
Tart cherries have long been used as a natural painkiller, and are particularly effective against gout. Scientists believe that compounds in the cherries called anthocyanins are responsible for the effect. Cherries have been shown to lower levels of uric acid in the blood, which is one of the most common causes of gout pain. Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis triggered by high levels of uric acid in the blood.
Look for tart cherry juice at the grocery or health food store (I've seen the Knudson brand at our local IGA and Walmart), and get in the habit of having a small glass each day. Tart cherry juice is, well you know: Tart. It is straight up juice, no added sugar or other ingredients. I like it chilled and I drink it from a juice glass. You may want to mix it in a glass of sparkling water or perhaps ginger ale. Ginger ale -- that actually sounds pretty good doesn't it?
I've been working with a gentleman for a few years now as his health coach and he hasn't had a flare up of gout since he added tart cherry juice to his daily routine two years ago. He adds a cup of cherry juice to a tumbler of Diet Coke.
Anthocyanins from cherries are also highly anti-inflammatory, and consuming them on a regular basis may help lower the risk for heart attack, stroke and even colon cancer.
In addition to cherries, foods that are rich in anthocyanins include blueberries, blackberries, purple carrots and pomegranate juice. The richer the color of the fruit or vegetable, the greater likelihood it's loaded with the health giving compounds.
Osteoarthritis and Muscle Pain -- these are ailments that I struggle with and I'm betting many of you reading this also feel the same pain. A cup and a half of tart cherries or one cup of tart cherry juice daily can reduce joint pain of osteoarthritis and muscle inflammation and soreness.
What are some other benefits of adding cherries, specifically tart cherries and tart cherry juice, to your diet?
• Can help you sleep better. Drink cherry juice 30 minutes after waking and 30 minutes before your evening meal to boost melatonin. Cherries are a good source of melatonin and have also been found to help with jet lag. 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.
• May reduce the risk of Stroke. Tart cherries provide cardiovascular benefits. The anthocyanins may activate PPAR which regulates genes involved in fat and glucose metabolism and thus, reduce risk factors for high cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes.
• Improve the aging of our skin. Cherries and their high antioxidant level help the body fight the aging process.
• Help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. The phytosterols in cherries help reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.
I don't know about you, but that is a lot to cheer about. I'm headed out to find myself a jar of tart cherry juice and putting in my fridge to chill -- what about you?
Stay Healthy. Be STRONG. Get After It.
I share my thoughts with you to provide information and food for thought aka pondering. Pondering which will lead to more reading, education and Eureka! moments. However, please don't take it as medical advice. It isn't. If you have a medical condition, or suspect you have one, always seek care from a licensed medical professional. That way -- it's all BAMtastic!
Jen is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach; a Life, Health & Fitness Coach; a certified Holistic Health Practitioner and an NASM Certified Personal Trainer who has a passion for changing the world starting with her little chunk of it.
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