Cheerful Nutrition by the Bushel
When you pop a cherry in your mouth and let the flavors explode, you gain a rush of nutrition. Thanks to the intact skin—thin though it may be—you reap valuable amounts of fiber (3 grams or 12% DV) in every serving. Then comes a wash of vitamin C (16% DV), potassium (9% DV) and other nutrients, from vitamin K and B vitamins to magnesium and copper.
Cherries also are chock full of phytochemicals—compounds in plants that possess bioactive properties and protect health. These include anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, epicatechin, hydroxycinnamic acid, quercetin, and carotenoids, which are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. (Antiinflamm Antiallergy Agents Med Chem, 2013) Indeed, cherries rank high on the antioxidant scale, and they have been shown to reduce inflammatory markers and oxidative stress in humans. (J Nutr, 2013 and J Nutr, 2009)
That’s a good thing, as oxidative stress and inflammation damage body cells and lead to chronic disease, such as heart disease and cancer. Cherries even have the sleep-enhancing compounds tryptophan and melatonin, which scientists believe help protect the cherry itself from oxidative stress. (J Pineal Res, 2013)
While cherries are so special they may seem like a treat, don’t forget that they can help you contribute valuable servings of fruit to your day—eating more fruit has been linked with fighting disease and optimal health. Since Americans are not getting enough fruit—the guidelines suggest about 2 cups per day for most adults—feasting on cherries is a delicious way to rack up those fruit servings and power up on their health bounty.