Many varieties of cherries are grown in the United States, classified as either sweet or tart, and while sweet cherries are generally purchased fresh, tart cherries are usually purchased dried, frozen, canned or as a concentrated juice.
Montmorency is the most common variety of tart cherries grown in the United States, and Northwest Wild Foods proudly sells these organically grown cherries which are harvested right here in Washington State. Once harvested, these cherries are immediately pitted and fresh frozen to preserve their nutrient value and refreshing taste.
These cherries provide great nutritional value due to their high vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content. The resultant anti-inflammatory health benefits include better heart health, reduced risk of cancer and diabetes, faster muscle recovery after exercise, as well as relief from osteoarthritis, including gout. The presence of melatonin improves sleep patterns as well.
Nutritional Bona fides of Fresh Frozen Tart Cherries
One cup of frozen tart cherries contains significant amounts of Vitamins A and C as well as smaller amounts of manganese, potassium, copper, zinc and vitamin K. In fact, a single cup serving of tart cherries provides 25 % of the recommended daily value (RDV) of vitamin A, 16% RDV of vitamin C, and 6% RDV of potassium.
However, their nutritional star quality really lies in their antioxidant content. Tart cherries contain high amounts of polyphenols, a category of antioxidants that includes anthocyanins. These are the most active antioxidants in cherries, and their anti-inflammatory properties help decrease the risk and severity of inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, gout, diabetes, heart disease, as well as that of other chronic conditions including impaired brain health (mental decline) and certain cancers. These cherries have a low glycemic index, and at 60 calories per cup, are excellent for those monitoring their blood sugar levels.
Studies have also shown a beneficial link between the consumption of concentrated tart cherry juice and the improved recovery of muscles after exercise by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, thereby decreasing muscle damage and loss of strength.
Health Benefits for a Better Life
- Cardiovascular Health
The anti-inflammatory properties of anthocyanins found in tart cherries provide numerous health benefits that promote overall cardiovascular health: lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels, and decreased risk of atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”), which are all risk factors for heart disease.
- Muscle Pain Relief / Improved Workout Recovery
Recent studies suggest that tart cherry juice may aid in muscle recovery after intense exercise by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Athletes and active individuals will find this particularly beneficial.
Several additional studies show that consuming tart cherry juice or powder before biking, swimming, or running significantly improved exercise endurance, and reduced recovery time.
- Improved Brain Health
The high levels of anthocyanins in tart cherries may improve brain health by reducing oxidative stress and plaque deposition. These anthocyanins may also prevent certain neurodegenerative diseases through their neuroprotective effects, potentially supporting cognitive function and reducing the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
- Joint Health: Osteoarthritis Relief and Prevention of Gout
The anti-inflammatory effect of tart cherries contributes to joint health and can be beneficial for individuals suffering from conditions like gout or osteoarthritis. Due to their potent anti-inflammatory effects, cherries may reduce the symptoms of arthritis and gout, the latter being a type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid that can lead to extreme swelling, inflammation, and joint pain.
A study that was published by Arthritis and Rheumatism showed that eating cherries over just a 48-hour period reduced the risk of a gout attack by up to 35 percent.
- Diabetes Management and Prevention
If you have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic or currently suffer from type 2 diabetes, eating cherries may be beneficial. Cherries have a glycemic index of 22; this means that eating a serving will not suddenly spike your blood sugar and insulin levels. This index number is very low, especially when compared to some other fruits such as blueberries, peaches, apricots, and plums, which all have a glycemic index above 39.
This means that if you suffer from diabetes you should consider adding cherries into your diet. In addition to having a low glycemic index, the anthocyanin in cherries supports insulin production.
- Sleep Aid / Stress Reduction
Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycles). Consuming tart cherry juice or whole cherries may help improve the quality and duration of your sleep.
Many factors of modern life including stress, screen-time, and artificial light can inhibit our body’s natural melatonin production. If you experience difficulty falling asleep or sleep fitfully, tart cherry juice may help you achieve a better night’s rest. This is because cherry juice increases the bioavailability of tryptophan, increasing your body’s production of melatonin.
- Cancer Prevention
Anti-cancer Quercetin and the anthocyanins contained in cherries are flavonoids that are thought to exert anti-carcinogenic activity. According to the American Cancer Research Society, cherries are effective at preventing colon cancer from developing. It is also believed to slow the growth of cancer cells in the intestine. Quercetin has also shown a positive effect on the treatment of ovarian cancer.
Suggestions for Adding Cherries to your Diet.
- Add cherries to fruit salads, fruit and nut trail mixes, oatmeal, granolas, and yogurt.
- Pair cherries with savory foods, such as salads, cheeses, meat, and seafood.
- Use pureed cherries or compote in dressings, sauces, and condiments.
- Add cherry juice to smoothies, or drinks anytime.
A Final Word….
As you can see, our Montmorency cherries are packed with health benefits, which can have such a positive effect on your life and lifestyle. They contribute to reducing inflammation, arthritis and gout attacks, and muscle pain after exercise. They are also rich in fiber, can improve your sleep, beneficial for your heart, brain health, and even cancer prevention.