Cherries make for a sweet snack and -- at just less than 100 calories and half a gram of fat per serving -- they fit into a health-conscious diet. Because cherries have such a sweet flavor, they make a healthy substitute for snacks such as candy or cakes. Cherries also make an excellent ingredient for a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner options.
Cherries are full of antioxidants. These antioxidants have a number of different benefits, including the ability to prevent cancer and heart disease, as well as fighting off free radicals. The antioxidants found in cherries also work to slow the signs of aging. All cherries contain their own antioxidants but sour cherries have the most, beating out even blueberries with their antioxidant content.
A cherry is made up of more than 75 percent water. This water content makes cherries a perfect weight loss food as foods that are high in water and low in calories keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time than foods and drinks that are higher in calories. Cherries are also loaded with fiber, at almost 3 grams per serving. This fiber helps accelerate weight loss and reduces your cholesterol levels by slowing its absorption into your blood.
Some cherries naturally contain melatonin -- a natural substance that is typically produced by your brain to regulate your sleep cycles -- reports a study published in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" in 2001. While your body does have the ability to produce its own melatonin, it typically does so only in darkness and not everyone is able to produce all the melatonin that is needed. Factors such as the artificial lighting that is found in many offices and homes limit how much melatonin is produced by your body. Eating cherries might help boost melatonin levels in your body.
Pain Relief and Bone Health
Cherries contain substances known as anthocyanins -- purple and blue pigments that give the cherries their color. These compounds reduce pain related to inflammation, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center. Cherries are also used to relieve the pain associated with arthritis and gout, though the extent to which they relieve pain needs further investigation. Cherries also contain boron, which helps increase bone health when consumed in conjunction with magnesium and calcium.
- High Plains/Midwest AG Journal: Discover the Benefits of Eating Red with Cherries
- Choose Cherries: Antioxidants
- Wisconsin Cherry Growers: Health Benefits of Cherries
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cherries, Sweet, Raw
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Detection and Quantification of the Antioxidant Melatonin in Montmorency and Balaton Tart Cherries (Prunus cerasus).
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Cherries