One of my favorite things about the hellishly hot months of summer is when I walk through the front door at Whole Foods and am greeted by an overflowing display of bright red, deep red and pinkish-red bounty. Halfway into peak cherry season (which usually runs between June 15 and July 15 in Colorado), I find myself bordering the lines of appreciation and obsession. I just cannot get enough. Sure, we have cherries longer available to us from California and Washington states, but there’s just something about local produce that tastes that much better.
If you exercise regularly and lead a healthy lifestyle – which, if you are reading my column I would imagine you do – you probably already know that a colorful diet of fruits and veg is essential.
Here are a few more good reasons to add cherries to your summertime menu:
Help you sleep better at night
Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, which regulates our circadian rhythm to help us get our deepest, most restful sleep. Experts recommend drinking tart cherry juice 30 minutes after waking up and 30 minutes prior to dinner to maximize the effects. Sleep is when our body rebuilds and repairs after those grueling workouts, so don’t skimp.
Visceral fat, or belly fat, above the amount needed to cushion your internal organs, can be deadly. Breast cancer, colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure have all been linked to excessive visceral fat. Darkly pigmented cherries contain high concentrations of anthocyanins, an antioxidant compound responsible for regulating inflammatory responses in the body.
As we already know, the high concentration of anthocyanins in cherries will reduce inflammation. When we’re talking about exercise, inflammation (and more importantly, lowering inflammation) is a major component to the healing process after a workout. Asthma is also a chronic inflammatory disease that, if you suffer like I do, cherries help to bring down some of that inflammation so we can get through our weekly cardio requirements.
Keep your skin youthful
Because cherries have the highest level of antioxidants than any other fruit, our skin also benefits. Free radicals are responsible for aging skin, so the more antioxidants we add to our diet, the better at fighting these free radicals our body will be – and the better our skin will look.
Whether you like your cherries fresh, dried, frozen or in juice-form, you cannot lose. Give them a try, at least during the summer and see what they can do for you. Let me know your favorite.
Jodilyn Stuart is the Health & Sports Senior Staff Writer for 303 Magazine, owner of ModaBody Face + Fitness, and has been a professional fitness geek since 1997. If you have questions, feel free to email at: [email protected]