It’s summertime and cherries are in season!
“We have apples and bananas for days, so I love summer when the stone fruits like cherries come around,” says Carrie Gabriel, a registered dietician based in Los Angeles. Not only do they taste great, but cherries also have many health benefits.
Fiber. Cherries are high in fiber—one cup has about 3 grams. According to Harvard Health, Americans consume less than half the suggested amount of fiber each day; most of us eat 10 to 15 grams daily. The USDA recommends that adult women and men up to age 50 consume 25 grams and 38 grams a day, respectively.
Vitamin C. The list of health benefits of cherries doesn’t end there. These stone fruits also boast vitamin C, which is essential for maintaining immune system and skin health, according to Gabriel.
“Immunity is a big bullet point right now after the hardest stage of the pandemic,” she says, “and most fruits and vegetables help with immunity.”
One cup of cherries has 18 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C intake. And at only 97 calories per cup, they make a delicious high-fiber, low-calorie snack.
Antioxidants. Cherries contain melatonin, which may help regulate your sleep cycle. They are also full of antioxidants, which help combat oxidative stress from the environment, pollution and other factors that can cause premature aging and chronic disease.
How To Incorporate Cherries into Your Diet
There are several ways to enjoy the health benefits of cherries. If choosing dried cherries, Gabriel advises reading the label carefully for the presence of added sugars. Cherries are naturally sweet already! She also notes that cherries are smaller when dried and the water is removed, so it’s easy to consume too many. “Be mindful of the serving size, and don’t give yourself a stomachache,” she says.
When chomping on fresh cherries, don’t forget the pit. If you accidentally swallow a cherry pit, however, it will likely just pass through your system and come out the other end, according to OnHealth.com. Also avoid biting into the pits with your teeth. A simple cherry pitting tool may be a wise investment; try the Oxo Good Grips Cherry and Olive Pitter ($13).
Recipes Ideas Using Cherries
Recipe ideas for cherries abound. Home chefs may want to whip up an inventive cherry mango salsa or cherry barbeque sauce, but faster options include tossing cherries into a smoothie or drinking a cup of tart cherry juice after a workout, Gabriel says. (Some evidence exists that drinking tart cherry juice can combat exercise-induced pain and inflammation.)
Cherries are also a wonderful addition to salads—pair with goat cheese for the perfect sweet/savory combo—or on yogurt or ice cream. Tart cherry juice is a fun ingredient in a mocktail or cocktail.
“I love sweets, and being able to add fruit like cherries to something is healthy and refreshing for summer time,” Gabriel says.
Try these tasty recipes: