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9 Benefits of Cherries That Will Surprise You

9 Benefits of Cherries That Will Surprise You

Cherries are great for helping you live longer, sleep better, reduce muscular pain, and possibly even prevent cancer. Read on to learn about these and other benefits of cherries.

Which type of cherry?

You can opt for the sweet cherry, the tart one (prunus cerasus) or tart cherry juice. Michigan is the home of the tart cherry, while Washington and Oregon grow the sweeter ones. They all have similar qualities, although the tart cherries tend to contain more antioxidants.

1. Reduce muscular pain

If you are a jogger, you probably feel some muscular aches and stiffness after a long run.  The surprising results of research carried out by the Department of Orthopedics at the Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, showed that tart cherry juice can reduce muscular aches and pains after running.

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The participants had to drink two bottles of tart cherry juice on a daily basis for a week before a marathon. The placebo group were given a different type of juice.

The runners who had taken the cherry juice reported less pain than the placebo group. Pain was measured using the VAS (Visual Analog Scale). A summary of the report can be read in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

2. Lower your blood pressure

If you are one of the many people who suffer from high blood pressure, cherries may be a healthy addition to your diet. They could also help you to reduce your intake of blood pressure meds. Cherries are rich in potassium and calcium, which are instrumental in helping you lower your sodium and alcohol levels. This is key to reducing blood pressure.

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3. Sleep better and longer

Surprisingly, cherries can even help you get a better night’s sleep!  Researchers from the USA, UK and South Africa conducted trials with a group of 20 volunteers. They were given either a placebo or tart cherry juice for a week.  Feedback on their quality of sleep was analyzed as well as the levels of melatonin in their urine. Results clearly showed that the tart cherry juice group were able to sleep for longer (about 40 minutes more) and their sleep disturbances were considerably lessened.

4. Eat a healthy fruit snack

If you are worried about weight loss, try to avoid those sugary, chocolate snacks. A much healthier choice is to opt for a cup of cherries, which amount to only 100 calories. If you prefer a juice, that is fine too. You can even make your own if you are patient enough. Another alternative is to try mixing a cup of cherries with yogurt.

 5. Cancer prevention

Did you know that the most precious elements in the humble cherry are its antioxidants?  These are essential in fighting free radicals, which are key protagonists in cancer as they tend to damage cells.

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Cherries contain the following antioxidants:

  • Cyanidin
  • Anthocyanin
  • Queritrin
  • Ellagic acid

A great tip is to go for the darker, riper cherries, especially the tart ones, as these contain a greater number of antioxidants.  According to the National Cancer Institute, the best dietary antioxidants are found in vegetables and fruit, especially berry fruits such as cherries and blueberries.

6. Pain relief

Research now shows that the humble cherry may be just as effective for pain relief as aspirin or ibuprofen! Eating 20 tart cherries to get pain relief is the surprising advice from Prof. Muralee Nair at the Michigan State University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources. It is just as effective as taking two painkillers.

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7. Worried about Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the progressive destruction of neurons involved in brain processing. Research now shows that phenols and the anthocyanins contained in cherries may add a protective element in the prevention of this debilitating disease. Most fruits will help to strengthen the neuron connectors although the anthocyanins seem to be more efficient. As we have seen above, these are plentiful in cherries.

8. Relief from arthritis and gout

There are quite a few studies which have shown that the anthocyanine in cherries may help sufferers from arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory capacity. The case of gout is better documented in that the Boston University Medical Center in 2012 did a study which involved over 630 patients suffering from this painful condition.  They looked at the number of attacks, their frequency and also dietary considerations.

The fascinating result is that when 20 cherries (1 cup) were eaten before an attack, the results showed that the probability and severity were reduced by about 35%. The medical explanation is that cherries have the ability of reducing uric acid which is crucial in the treatment of gout. More studies need to be done but this is a very encouraging development.

9. Better eyesight

There are many precious vitamins and antioxidants in fruit and vegetables. As regards to beta-carotene (comes from the Latin word for carrot), this antioxidant is vital in that it converts to Vitamin A. This is essential for our eyesight. The good news is that cherries contain about 19 times the quantity found in blueberries. Now, why don’t you pass me that bowl of cherries?

Featured photo credit: Bowl of Cherries via basykes via Flickr

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

ablab

    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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