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April 2, 2018

The Many Health Benefits of Dark Cherries

Dark cherries aren’t just tasty. These vitamin- and antioxidant-packed berries can also improve your health. Cherries have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits that can reduce symptoms of arthritis and gout while protecting your heart. They’re also packed with potassium to lower the risk of high blood pressure and stroke with a boost of vitamins A, B6, C, and K.

When it comes to cherries and other fruits, the darker the color, the stronger the benefits. Dark cherries offer a higher level of anthocyanins than other cherries. This is why the health benefits of dark cherries usually exceed those of other varieties. Here are seven good reasons to incorporate more cherries into your diet, whether it’s whole cherries, cherry juice or even cherry pills.

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a small basket with dark cherries hanged outdoors in green garden

7 Most Important Health Benefits of Dark Cherries

1. Dark Cherries Can Lower Cholesterol

Dark cherries help you reduce your cholesterol levels due to their high levels of phytosterols. These plant compounds resemble cholesterol and have been found to reduce the risk of heart disease and even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Phytosterols in dark cherries work to reduce your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by nearly 10% by reducing how much cholesterol your body absorbs from your diet.

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2. Cherries Can Reduce the Risk of Stroke

According to a team from the University of Michigan Health System, the health benefits of dark cherries may be equal to some prescription medications when it comes to cardiovascular health. In fact, cherries might even be better than drugs and can improve the effects of many prescriptions. This is good news for people at risk of stroke as long-term use of prescriptions can also increase stroke risk.

The research found that the anthocyanins in cherries are responsible for activating PPAR isoforms in the tissues of the body, much like PPAR agonist medications. PPARs regulate genes involved in sugar metabolism and fat.

3. Cherries May Fight Belly Fat

According to a study on animals, dark cherries may have weight management benefits with the ability to target abdominal fat. In one study, rats that had whole tart cherry powder mixed into their feed did not gain as much weight or accumulate as much fat as rats that did not eat cherries. They also had lower levels of inflammation markers associated with diabetes and heart disease.

4. Dark Cherry Juice May Help You Sleep Better

happy beautiful woman stretching in bed after good night's sleep

Here’s one of the most surprising health benefits of dark cherries: they can help you sleep better. According to a study published in the European Journal of Medicine, drinking two ounces of cherry juice every day makes it easier to fall asleep.

Such a beverage also reduces the desire for daytime naps and increases sleep duration for an average of 39 minutes. Another study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, cherry juice also offers help for seniors with insomnia. The pilot study found cherry juice results in a significant improvement in insomnia severity.

A final study produced the greatest results. This study found drinking cherry juice before bed increases sleep duration for an average of 84 minutes every night. Researchers believe there are several reasons for the sleep health benefits of dark cherries.

The juice contains compounds that inhibit production of brain chemicals linked to poor sleep. It’s also rich in anthocyanins and procyanidins that reduce inflammation. Drinking cherry juice can also lower levels of kynurenine, a compound associated with sleep deprivation.

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5. Cherries Can Prevent Gout Attacks

According to a major study conducted by the Boston University Medical Center, people with gout who eat at least 10 cherries every day can be protected from flare-ups. The study found a 35% lower risk of gout attacks with cherry intake. When combined with allopurinol, a common drug to treat gout, the risk was 75% lower.

This protective benefit is attributed to the anthocyanins in cherries. These pigments have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The darker the cherry, the higher the level of anthocyanins. A second study backed up this benefit by finding that the anthocyanin helps reduce blood levels of uric acid responsible for gout attacks.

6. Dark Cherries Can Fight Arthritis

One of the most important benefits of dark cherries is their ability to reduce the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. For generations, people with osteoarthritis (OA) and other forms of arthritis have reported that cherries can help relieve and prevent painful flares.

A study published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage backed up this belief. The study found that people who drank two bottles of cherry juice every day for six weeks had a significant protection against stiffness, function, and pain.

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7. Cherries May Fight Soreness after Exercise

close up on see through glass of water with bubbles and cherry fruits

If you hate soreness and tender muscles after a good workout, whole dark cherries or cherry juice may help. The soreness you feel after a good workout is caused by muscle damage, which also causes inflammation. According to researchers, a cup-and-a-half of dark cherries or a cup of cherry juice work to reduce inflammation and soreness after exercise. Cherries can help due to their strong anti-inflammatory properties.

One study even found that marathon runners who drank cherry juice twice a day for a week prior to a race experienced dramatically less muscle pain after their race. It’s best to drink or eat cherries right after your workout with protein. This is the moment when the muscles are ready to absorb extra insulin in your blood.

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Conclusion

As you can see, the health benefits of dark cherries can help you in many areas of life, including better sleep quality, easier workouts, and a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Do you eat cherries or use cherry juice for your health? Have you noticed any improvements in the way you feel? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts!

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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