Cherries and berries may be tiny fruits but they pack quite a nutritional punch. With their abundant anthocyanins (the blue-purple pigment that provides their color), tannins, flavonoids and other nutritious elements, adding these healthy foods to your diet is the ultimate cherry on top for your health. Read on to learn more about the benefits of these delicious fruits.
Benefits of Cherries
Cherries come in both tart (sour) or sweet varieties and are nutritionally dense, yet low in calories. They generally contain vitamin C, potassium, fiber and phenolic compounds of which anthocyanins make up the majority. Sweeter cherries may contain lower amounts of antioxidants when compared to tart or sour cherries, but still provide a significant health benefit.
An interesting trial compared the antioxidant effects of tart cherries to that of apples. The results showed tart cherries had a greater effect on reducing markers of inflammation in the blood than apples.* To be clear, this doesn’t mean you should exclude apples from the diet. Apples are still a low calorie, high fiber food that is also a great source of vitamin C. However, the study does demonstrate that cherries and their anthocyanins possess impressive antioxidant ability.*
Fruits have a higher sugar content than vegetables, yet berries and cherries do not seem to cause as dramatic a spike in blood sugar as other fruit options. One reason for this may be the anthocyanin content of cherries and their counterparts, berries. Anthocyanins seem to support the body’s breakdown of carbohydrates, providing a more balanced and steady use of fuel.* Cherries also provide benefits in defending against the buildup of uric acid in the body. Uric acid is a natural waste product that occurs when the body breaks down food, but too much of it can create damaging crystals that could end up in the kidneys, joints and other places which can cause serious health issues.
Benefits of Berries
Similarly, berries such as strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries and elderberries are teeming with essential vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. For example, just one cup of blueberries contains 16% of your daily vitamin C and nearly a quarter of your vitamin K requirements. Blueberries are an ideal snack if you are watching your waistline because they are extremely filling, containing 3 grams of fiber per one-cup serving and over 80% water. Strawberries have a similar nutrient content to blueberries, except they are more than 90% water, contain 2 grams of fiber per cup and a whopping 150% of your daily vitamin C needs. Blueberries tend to get the most fanfare when it comes to antioxidants since they have more concentrated anthocyanins than strawberries. However, strawberries still contain plenty of free-radical scavenging compounds. A study examining how strawberries affected cholesterol oxidation found that the group that drank a strawberry beverage following a high fat meal had less oxidation than the group that drank a non-strawberry beverage with similar calories.*
Berries are also an easy-to-obtain source of ellagic acid, a type of plant tannin that supports heart health and circulation.* Many health-conscious individuals like to drink pomegranate juice for its high ellagic acid content, but this can be pricey and some brands contain excess sugar. Raspberries have the highest amount of ellagic acid of all berry types. Consuming raspberries can provide a budget-friendly way to get more ellagic acid into your diet.
Benefits of Tart Cherry
One unique difference between cherries and berries is that cherries, especially tart cherries, are rich in melatonin. Melatonin is naturally produced in the body, with production peaking at night when we are ready to go to sleep. A small study showed that those who drank tart cherry juice for a week experienced significant increases in melatonin levels which also improved how long they slept and overall sleep quality.* There are numerous studies with similar results linking tart cherry consumption to enhanced sleep quality.*
Berries and cherries in the form of jams, preserves, dried or fresh provide numerous ways for you to add these antioxidant fruits to your daily meals. Nature’s Lab also has you covered with several cherry and berry based supplements including our Cranberry Extract for urinary tract health and Tart Cherry Extract to support recovery from exercise and boost antioxidant levels.* Our Super Antioxidant Support combines several berries in one formula, including goji and acai berry. Get heart health benefits from our Hawthorn Berries formula or support your hormonal balance with Vitex Berry.* Take a look at our collection of berry and cherry supplements to find the right fit for your wellness goals.