Cherries and Antioxidants
Cherries and Antioxidants
Making wise food choices can be quite difficult. Coupled with the fact that the mere act of eating as well as a number of other physiological processes such as breathing and exercising can leave the bodies’ cells battered and beleaguered, there is little left to do but to ensure we know which foods can help and which are not of use. As our bodies break down and metabolize food, a large amount of free radicals are generated. Without any compounds present to counteract these unstable compounds, we are at risk of developing chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, cancer and many others. Fortunately, nature provides numerous fruits and vegetables which have vital compounds that help counteract these noxious free radicals.
Fruits such as cherries, kiwis, blackberries and grapes, commonly referred to as ‘super fruits’, boast formidable antioxidant concentrations. Cherries, especially tart cherries, are known to have the highest antioxidant concentrations when compared to other fruits and vegetables. Numerous studies focusing on cherries and antioxidants have revealed quite a few surprising facts about cherries and how they could help the body fight off disease.
As already alluded to, cherries have a formidable antioxidant concentration. Tart cherries have significantly higher antioxidant concentrations than sweet cherries since they contain more sour and bitter tasting phytochemicals which are the very compounds which afford them their antioxidant prowess. The ORAC value for cherries is around the 1500 mark which is slightly over strawberries and just below blueberries which have an ORAC value of 1000 and 2400 respectively.
Research on cherries and antioxidants, particularly those focusing on the health benefits to be gained from adding cherries to one’s daily diet, have postulated that consumption of cherries could lead to improved cardiovascular health, brain health as well as increased memory retention. Moreover, the antioxidants within cherries are known to have anti-aging properties. Cherries are also known for being a rich source of carotenoids which help improve one’s vision.
Cherries have long been a traditional remedy for alleviating pain and inflammation related to gout and arthritis. Research on the same has revealed that adding cherries to one’s daily diet may help the body excrete any excess uric acid which is the main cause for gout. Moreover, certain phytochemicals grouped as antioxidants, present within cherries help combat the inflammation associated with arthritic pain.
Other related studies to cherries and antioxidants have revealed that cherries may be a better cure to insomnia than sleeping pills. Studies have shown that medical hypnotics or sleeping pills may result in increased risk of chronic illnesses including cancer. Cherries and their related cherry products, therefore, play an important role as natural sleeping aids. Since they contain high levels of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep patterns, cherries may actually help insomniacs get a full night’s sleep.