GTPulse: Healthy Happy Cherries
With the National Cherry Festival postponing until next summer, cherries will be getting a little less glory this year. The bright red fruit is an icon in Northern Michigan for its abundance, beauty, versatility in baked goods and sometimes sweet, sometimes tart taste. Just because there won’t be a festival thrown in their honor this year doesn’t mean that cherries need to lose any of their much-deserved attention. Not only do they taste good, but they also have a multitude of health benefits that contribute to feeling and looking good too.
Miranda Monroe is a registered dietitian Nutritionist at Grand Traverse Nutrition. A lot of her work focuses on helping clients with sports performance nutrition, weight management and people with digestive issues, food intolerances and sensitivities. Born and raised in Australia, she didn’t grow up around cherries, but she’s a fan and knows a thing or two about why they’re healthy.
- Skin: “If you look at the components of cherries, they’re a good source of vitamin c, and vitamin c plays a role in collagen production. Also, they’re a rich source of antioxidants which help fight cellular damage and reduce inflammation. There’s not any studies that claim if you ate cherries your skin is suddenly going to be smooth and amazing and blemish-free. We can say that cherries are good for the health of your skin, especially when your skin is being exposed to environmental and oxidative damage every day. The antioxidants can help reduce the everyday damage that we’re throwing at it. They’re high in water too, and that contributes to hydration. Good hydration is going to help your skin look and feel better.”
- Sleep: “Cherries are about the only food that contain a natural source of melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. There have been some small studies that have found that people taking tart cherry juice concentrate, we’re talking like an ounce or two here, every day, have shown to improve sleep quality and duration and insomnia.”
- Muscle Recovery: “Although they haven’t really identified specific compounds it’s just the general antioxidant properties of them that helps speed up muscle recovery by reducing biomarkers and oxidative damage and the inflammatory response. Studies have shown people using tart cherry juice have lower biomarkers for damage and inflammatory response, There have also been some studies that looked at Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), they found tart cherry juice may reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness.”
I had heard that cherries could help with weight loss, but Miranda debunked that and said that while they are better after dinner dessert than a bowl of ice cream, there’s nothing particular about eating cherries that promotes losing weight. She likes them for their benefits of course, but also for their taste.
“There are always cherries of some form in my home. Cherries in Australia were like unicorns. It is just not a good climate for growing cherries. They were a luxury, so to come here and just be able to snack on them versus maybe just using one as a garnish on a dessert,” she said with a laugh. As far as her favorite way to eat them?
“I put dried cherries on my cereal in the morning. I love them on salads. They’re good when they’re in season as a part of a fruit salad or I love them in salsa. I love to just have them as a snack and eat them with a few nuts. Frozen they’re always fun just dropped in some sparkling water.”
Life’s sweet when you like what you eat, especially if it’s good for you too.
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