Friday, August 9, 2013

Fitness Friday - Cherries

After two Fitness Fridays of yoga poses, I am returning to one of my favorite aspects of the summer months and one of the biggest benefits of the season - fresh fruit and eating it every single day.  The health benefits of cherries are numerous and it almost seems like cheating because they also happen to be one of my favorite fruits to eat.  I will start buying dried ones in the fall and winter but for now I will be buying as many fresh cherries as I can until the end of the season. 

I have been eating cherries in the summer for many years now but I was not aware of all the health benefits that they contain until I found the following articles from Fox News.  I had mainly bought cherries because I liked the taste and they provided more servings of fruit in my day (and contained less calories and helped contain my cravings for sugar throughout the day).  Now I have learned that this red berries contain more benefits than I thought possible.

Fox News is not on my viewing list and I would not have found this great article unless I was searching Google on this topic.  This article was authored by Tanya Zuckerbrot MS RD, a New York City registered dietitian and author of the "Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear" and "F-Factor Diet".  I see that I need to look in the library for these books and report back.  Here is her article on the health benefits of one of my new favorite fruits...

"Cherries help ease arthritis pain
For those who suffer from arthritis and gout, you will be relieved to find out that adding cherries to your diet can greatly decrease the intense pain associated with those ailments. Excess uric acid in the blood is the culprit behind the excruciating pain that causes swelling, tenderness and inflammation.  A study done by the USDA found that uric acid can be reduced by as much as 15 percent by eating 2 cups of Bing cherries. Cherries can also help reduce painful inflammation by decreasing the amount of C-reactive protein produced. So add a little zing to your diet by choosing Bing (cherries).
Cherries help fight cancer
The distinctive deep red pigment cherries are known for comes from flavonoids; powerful antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the body. Cyanidin is a flavonoid from the anthocyanin group found in cherries that helps keep cancerous cells from growing out of control. And, for cherries with the most anthocyanins go for sweet cherries with the deepest pigment; crimson-purple rather than bright red.

Cherries help you sleep
If sipping a cup of chamomile isn’t enough to induce restful sleep try having tart cherry juice before bed. Tart cherries contain melatonin, a hormone that helps make you feel sleepy. Two tablespoons of tart cherry juice has been shown in studies to be just as effective as a melatonin supplement. So, pour yourself a little cherry juice nightcap for a tasty bedtime sleep aid.

Cherries and blood pressure
Cherries are an excellent source of potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure by getting rid of the excess sodium in our body. Eating cherries helps keep potassium and sodium in balance, and can prevent hypertension from occurring. One cup of cherries has the same amount of potassium as a banana making it a great substitute when you are not in the mood for another ho-hum banana.

Cherries help keep you trim
Eating cherries can help you lose weight and stay trim.  A cup of cherries is less than 100 calories and packs in 3 grams of fiber, which will keep you feeling full longer. Also, these little beauties contain many B-vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B6; these vitamins are crucial for metabolism and convert nutrients into energy. What could be better than eating cherries to help you stay lean and skinny?

Tip: Cherries are not only healthy, but they are delicious and versatile. They can be added to everything from dairy, to pork; eaten raw or cooked down to make a sauce or strained for juice. Serve them by the bowlful for dessert at your next summer barbecue; just be sure to have plenty of napkins and bowls for the pits!"

I already knew that cherries were a good low calorie snack but I didn't know all about the fiber content and all the B-vitamins that are packed into one little serving of cherries.  I have never heard about the melatonin content of cherries and I want to try and find tart cherry juice next time that I visit Wegmans (I don't think that I will be able to juice them myself without a juicer).  I am also wondering if I would be able to find a cherry tea to use at night, I will see what I can find next time I go food shopping.

Summer is the best time of the year to easily eat healthy and I am going to make the most that I can of the next few weeks!

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