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8 Health Benefits Of Cherries For Weight Loss, Heart Health, And More!

Time to stop underestimating these little guys.

Most people know that oranges are packed with vitamin C and that apples are a solid source of fiber. But cherries? Um…they’re delicious in pie?

Cherries are actually low-key pretty solid in the health benefits department—so you might just want to give the health perk-packed fruit a little more cred.

“I love cherries,” says New York City-based nutritionist Alisa Rumsey, RD. “Cherries are a versatile fruit that offer great flavor and a lot of health benefits—especially Montmorency tart cherries, which are the most common variety of tart cherries in the U.S. and the most-researched.”

Yep, there’s actually a lot of legit science that links cherries (particularly tart cherries) with all sorts of health benefits.

Jessica Cording, RD, nutritionist and author of The Little Book of Game-Changers, is also a cherry fan. “Cherries have a lot going for them from a nutritional standpoint,” she says. “Sure, they’re tiny, but they have so much to offer.”

In case you’re wondering, here’s what you get in one cup of tart cherries:

Calories: 51
Fat: 0.3 g
Carbs: 12.5 g
Fiber: 1.7 g
Sugar: 8.7 g
Protein: 1 g
That’s just the beginning, though. Here are eight legit benefits cherries have to offer.

Cherries have a lot of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
“One of the main things I like about cherries is that they’re really high in antioxidants,” Cording says. “The pigments that give cherries their great color also signify that they have a lot of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.”

Anthocyanins, for example, are a type of polyphenol that give foods a deep red color and act as an antioxidant in the body, Rumsey explains.

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Those antioxidants pack a punch. Drinking eight ounces of tart cherry juice (about the same as eating 50 cherries) daily for four weeks can significantly reduce markers of inflammation associated with chronic disease, according to a study published in the journal Food & Function.

They might boost your heart health.
The benefits of cherries’ polyphenols don’t end with fighting inflammation. “Diets rich in polyphenols may help protect against conditions like heart disease,” Cording says.

How? Drinking eight ounces of tart cherry juice daily may help lower triglycerides (high levels of which can raise your risk of heart disease), found another Food & Function study.

They could help you sleep.
Cherries contain melatonin, a hormone that helps control your sleep-wake cycle. “Not a lot of foods contain melatonin, but tart cherries are an exception,” Cording points out.

Though getting proper sleep is complicated (and involves way more than just eating cherries), the fruit can “help promote healthy sleep and regulate your circadian rhythm,” she says.

If you’re struggling with sleep, good sleep hygiene (avoiding screens before bed, keeping your room cool and dark) is crucial, but incorporating more cherries or cherry juice into your diet could also help.

Cherries can boost your exercise performance (and recovery).
“Tart cherry juice has been shown to boost exercise performance and post-workout recovery,” Rumsey says. In fact, research has been looking into this benefit for years.

One older study, for instance, found that runners who drank tart cherry juice before and after long-distance races recovered faster than those who drank something else. Cherries’ antioxidants may also help decrease soreness after you exercise, according to nurtitionist Sonya Angelone, RD, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Plus, a more recent meta-analysis (which analyzed the data of multiple studies), found that consuming tart cherry juice or powder before biking, swimming, or running significantly improved exercise endurance.

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