These days, fruit gets a pretty bad rap. What was once considered a staple of any healthy diet has now become the poster child for hidden sugars, and many health-conscious eaters choose to avoid it entirely. But for those that can’t imagine life without the crisp bite of an apple or a handful of blueberries, there’s one fruit out there that’ll satisfy any craving — and do a lot of good, too.
Cherries may not be the first thing you reach for as you’re pushing your cart down the produce aisle, but these little red marvels are so packed with goodness that you’ll have no choice but to put them on your grocery list. With all the life-changing benefits that cherries offer, a little sugar will seem like a small price to pay for a lifetime of good health.
1. Weight Management: At 100 calories per cup, cherries are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without packing on the pounds. A single cup also contains three grams of fiber, so feel free to snack on all the cherries you’d like.
2. Improve Arthritis: Because of their anti-inflammatory properties, cherries have proven to reduce the symptoms of arthritis. Cherries inhibit oxidative stress and reduce the swelling of joints by suppressing inflammatory proteins in the body.
3. Sleep Better: A natural source of melatonin, cherries can help ease the mind and relax the body before bed, leading to longer, better sleep. They’re also handy for those who suffer frequent jet lag, as the natural melatonin also works to correct sleep cycles.
4. Improve Vision: They won’t do you the same kind of good as carrots, but cherries do contain a high level of beta-carotene, which is essential for eye health. In fact, cherries contain about 19 times more beta-carotene than antioxidant-rich blueberries do.
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5. Hair Health: Cherries are full of vitamins that keep your hair healthy: vitamin A, which hydrates the scalp and produces retinoic acid to stimulate hair follicles; vitamin B, which improves circulation and helps hair grow; and vitamin C, which prevents hair from breaking or falling out.
6. Blood Sugar: Cherries are low on the glycemic index, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar in the way that most other fruits do. In fact, studies have shown that eating cherries regularly can help lower HbA1c levels in those with type 2 diabetes.
7. Lower Your Cholesterol: Drinking tart cherry juice can help lower your overall cholesterol, including “bad” cholesterol known as LDL. For every 1 percent reduction in this kind of cholesterol, you can reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 2 percent.
8. Muscle Recovery: The anti-inflammatory compounds in cherries have proven to reduce muscle soreness post workout and improve recovery rates. These compounds have also proven to increase muscle growth, which you’d definitely need if you wanted to lift these enormous cherries!
9. Rich in Nutrients: Simply put, cherries contain a heck of a lot of good stuff that helps our body stay healthy and regulated. Protein, B vitamins, manganese, copper, magnesium, and vitamin K are just some of the essential nutrients cherries provide.
10. Energy Boost: Cherries are full of B vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin B6. Together, these vitamins are crucial for metabolism and for converting enough energy to finally catch those rebel scum.
11. Protect Your Heart: Most fruits are important to any heart-healthy diet, however cherries contain a much higher concentration of polyphenol antioxidants such as anthocyanins, flavonols, and catechins. These antioxidants are shown to prevent the cellular damage associated with heart disease.
12. Reduce Belly Fat: Tart cherries have been found to reduce belly fat even when paired with a high-fat diet. That’s not to say that a balanced diet isn’t important, but a glass of tart cherry juice should let you enjoy an extra spoonful of dessert guilt free.
13. Fight Inflammation: Cherries are packed with antioxidants like vitamins C and E, which fight the inflammation in our bodies. These vitamins also neutralize damaging free radicals that can lead to the development of chronic diseases.
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14. Improve Memory: The powerful polyphenol antioxidant anthocyanin has proven to enhance memory, and cherries are chock full of it. Eating cherries regularly is an excellent preventative measure for avoiding diseases like Alzheimer’s and keeping your noggin in tip-top shape.
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15. Prevent Gout Attacks: Much like with arthritis, the anti-inflammatory properties of cherries can help reduce the risk of gout attacks. In fact, one study showed that gout sufferers had a 35 percent lower risk of having an attack after eating cherries for just two days.
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16. Lower Your Risk of Colon Cancer: The high fiber concentration in cherries regulates the digestive track and is a great way to clear harmful free radicals from the body. As the health of your gut improves, so should the health of your colon, making it less susceptible to disease.
17. Improve Mood: Feeling low? Cherries are a great source of proanthocyanidins, which help the brain to produce mood-enhancing hormones like serotonin and noradrenaline. And after all, who couldn’t help but smile after digging into a nice cherry pudding?
18. Maintains pH: Our body’s acid levels are essential to maintaining good health, and cherries are an excellent regulator. Cherries are naturally alkaline, making them the perfect cure for an upset stomach.
19. Reduce Your Risk of Stroke: A single cup of cherries contains 9 percent of your daily recommended value of potassium. This important mineral lessens the effect of salt on the body, which is a major cause of hypertension and strokes.
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20. Slow Aging: If there really was a Fountain of Youth, it’d likely spray cherry juice. The high concentration of antioxidants present in tart cherry juice fights off the pesky free radicals that cause our skin to age, so make sure to drink plenty — unless you want to end up like these unlucky fruits…
But cherries aren’t the only “superfood” out there. Turmeric has been used as a medicinal and nutritional spice for centuries in other corners of the globe because it contains a compound called curcumin, which helps stop your heart from getting enlarged.
2. Seaweed: Don’t eat it straight out of the ocean or off your dog’s head, but do enjoy some properly prepared seaweed. It’s a rich source of iodine and can help prevent your blood from clotting and your arteries from hardening.
3. Carrots: Snowmen love them, and so should you. Carrots are filled with vitamins A, K, and C and their own antioxidant called carotenoids. Carrots prevent heart disease and also improve your vision! Best of all, you can also just snack on them raw. Yum!
4. Beets: These have a unique ability to lower the levels of homocysteine in your blood, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease and strengthen your organs. They taste great with a little goat cheese!
5. Pomegranates: This fruit may look a little funny on the inside, and eating them takes some getting used to, but they’re bursting with vitamins and antioxidants that help prevent strokes, diabetes, and even Alzheimers!
6. Coffee: When you skip the double shot decaf pumpkin spice frappe-cappu with extra whipped cream, coffee is pretty healthy for you — in moderation. It can reduce your chances of heart failure and heart disease. Too much of it, though, can raise your blood pressure.
7. Broccoli: Yes, most of us hated having to eat broccoli when we were young, but it’s actually very beneficial to your health! It can reduce cholesterol, and it contains sulforaphane, which balances your blood sugar levels.
8. Chocolate: Believe it or not, chocolate is good for you, but it all depends on how you consume it! The darker the chocolate, the better, because milk and sugar — which you’ll find plenty of in lighter chocolates — aren’t great for your body.
9. Red wine: Surprise, surprise! This type of alcohol isn’t all bad for you! Red vino can reduce built-up cholesterol and keep your blood vessels flexible, which will reduce blood clots. However, the limit is one glass a day.
10. Lentils: These little beans are a wonderful option for vegetarians and gluten-free folks alike. They’re packed with protein but are low in calories, plus they taste great in salads and lentil soup!
11. Chia seeds: While they used to be sold as the fur for pet-shaped planters, nutritionists have since found a better use for chia seeds: juices, bowls, salads, you name it! They are an incredible source of fiber, antioxidants, omega-3s, and protein.
12. Grapefruit: You either love or hate this bitter fruit, but it’s definitely good for you. Grapefruits are loaded with fiber and potassium, as well as heart-happy things like lycopene and choline. Plus when you’re done eating, you can use the peel to make a helmet for your cat.
13. Asparagus: Eat some asparagus for vitamins A, C, E, and K, and many other minerals to promote regular digestion and decrease your risk of diabetes.
14. Almonds: Like all other nuts, almonds contain protein, but on top of that, they also contain a long list of nutrients that improve memory and intelligence and reduce your risk of diabetes. If you combine these with some very dark chocolate, you’ll have a party in your mouth and get double health benefits.
15. Garlic: Get ready to stink! Garlic is not only flavorful but it also helps lower plaque levels in your arteries to keep them from getting clogged. There are even garlic supplements you can buy. We should warn you though, this is not for vampires.
16. Blueberries: They’re a fun size, and they taste great in almost every sweet dish, but what most people don’t know is that blueberries lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of cancer.
17. Quinoa: It’s alright if you don’t know how to pronounce it, just make sure to eat some once in a while! It has more than twice as much fiber as you’ll find in other grains, and it also contains protein, minerals, and essential amino acids. Just swap it in for rice and pasta, and you’ll be doing yourself a favor.
18. Avocados: There’s a good reason why people love ’em so much. Avocados add a nice, smooth, cool texture to rough foods like toast, salads, rice dishes, tacos, and of course as guac on some chips. They are filled with monounsaturated fats, a good kind of fat that helps hearts grow even stronger.
19. Oranges: Of course they’re juicy, sweet, and refreshing, but oranges are so much more. They contain a fiber that absorbs cholesterol as well as potassium, which neutralizes proteins that could potentially cause heart failure.
20. Cranberries: The main problem with cranberries is that they are very rare, so most foods and drinks that claim to contain cranberries are actually just cranberry flavored. However, when you find the real stuff, you can enjoy their antioxidants.
21. Chickpeas: These can be eaten raw, boiled, pan-fried, mashed, and turned into some delicious hummus dip. They contain fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and B-6, and some protein. They’re incredibly healthy AND versatile!
22. Green tea: What’s the tea? Much like broccoli, green tea can lower your cholesterol, and its antioxidants cleanse your body of unwanted chemicals. With a little honey mixed in, it can also be great on a sore throat.
23. Apples: Unless your evil stepmother witch queen has poisoned them, you should totally eat more apples! Like green tea, there are plenty of flavors to choose from, all loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and a little caffeine. Don’t you want to keep that doctor away?
24. Oats: Get your spoon out and prepare to eat some oatmeal! It’s a filling, energizing breakfast full of fiber. Try to steer clear of those super sugary oatmeals, though, and add different fruits — or even just a touch of honey — instead.
25. Kale: Surely you’ve heard all the rage about kale, as it can be found in nearly every salad, smoothie, and pasta or rice dishes nowadays — and for good reason: it’s loaded with fiber, antioxidants, and (the good) omega-3 fatty acids. It’s a solid leafy green that helps prevent heart disease, so go ahead and jump on the kale train.
26. Eggplant: The only time some people consume eggplant is in an eggplant parm, and we’re sorry to say loads of cheese, bread crust, and marinara sauce in that won’t save you — but other eggplant dishes will. Enjoy the vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids (metabolites that help cell-signaling pathways and antioxidant effects).
27. Salmon: Don’t go crazy with eating fish, since you could get mercury poisoning or high cholesterol, but a balanced amount of fish, especially salmon, is excellent for your health. It’s packed with good omega-3 fatty acids, which can fight off blood clots, heart disease, and even dementia.
28. Chicken: You don’t NEED this in your diet, so don’t worry if you’re vegetarian, but for meat-eaters, chicken is one of the healthiest ways to go. It’s a lean protein that matches well with almost every dish, so it’s easy to eat.
29. Olive oil: Remember that some oils and fats are good for you! Extra-virgin is a healthier alternative to cooking with butter or animal fat, and it will help balance your blood sugar and reduce harmful cholesterol.
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30. Spinach: Popeye had it absolutely right — spinach is good for you and can make you strong since it’s packed with iron and vitamin K. You still need to exercise to be strong and healthy, but spinach will give you stronger bones, fewer blood clots, and lower the risk of heart disease.