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The bright, hot days of summer are upon us, and what better way to beat the heat than with nature’s bounty: cherries! I think of cherries as half berry and half fruit – the last berry of the spring and the first fruit of the summer. While they look like a small fruit, they deliver all the lymph-moving and fatty tissue-cleansing properties that berries do. Unlike many fruits that are on grocery store stands year-round, cherries’ growing season lasts only about four months long – from late spring through early summer – so get them while you can! (1)
Summer’s seasonal harvest naturally provides a high-carb, low-fat diet (including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables that have been cooked by the sun on the vine) to keep us energized for long, hot days in the sun. According to Ayurveda, cherries, along with other cooling, cleansing summer foods like apples, pomegranates, and watermelons, help to activate heat-removing channels in the body such as looser stools and more frequent urination.
While sweet cherries possess many health benefits, (2) some of the very best lymph-moving support comes from tart cherries. Tart cherries can be harder to find than the ever-popular sweet cherries, but look for them at your local farmer’s market or in the frozen foods section of your natural foods grocery store – they are often sold frozen, as they are popular for baking. You can also get a tart cherry concentrate and make a great summer drink when mixed with water.
Due to their high phenolic and anthocyanin content, tart cherries have been found to support the following:
- The health of joints, muscles, the cardiovascular system, inflammatory response, weight, and blood sugar balance. (3-7)
- The superior antioxidant qualities of tart cherries have been found to help increase our antioxidant defenses and protect us against the damaging effects of oxidative stress. (8)
- Enhance our exercise – tart cherries have been found to support quicker recovery times and better strength during and after exercise. (9-12)
- Help relieve muscle and joint discomfort, without side effects, in comparable ways to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. (10-12)
- Boost our melatonin levels, which can help in enhancing how long and how well we sleep. (13)
- Support our longevity – including a 65% reduction in early mortality, according to one study, which found that tart cherries are able to activate certain genes linked to health and longer life. (14)
Enjoy summer’s bounty of tart cherries – delicious, naturally cooling, and packed with health benefits. But, as their growing season is coming to an end, get ‘em while it’s hot!
In what ways have you experienced the benefits of cherries?