(BPT) - The country may be turning a corner on the pandemic, but the fallout could take some time to work through. Americans have health concerns beyond COVID-19 that have compounded in the past year: postponed care for wellness issues, changed sleep patterns, undesired weight changes and increased stress. While no silver bullet can solve all these issues, making small dietary changes can help. Simply including sweet Northwest cherries in your daily fruit intake can provide important nutrients and bioactive compounds that have a variety of benefits.
Sweet Northwest cherries are easy to incorporate into your diet — snack on them fresh, toss them in a smoothie, sprinkle them on salads, mix them into a salsa or stir them into a sauce. Besides their great taste, sweet cherries have loads of health advantages. Here are just four reasons why you should grab a generous handful every day:
1. Fight chronic diseases.
Sweet cherries contain anthocyanins, which appear to work in a similar manner to ibuprofen and naproxen in shutting down enzymes that cause tissue inflammation. Increased inflammation is an underlying cause for many chronic illnesses, such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Anthocyanins are a type of polyphenolic compound — what gives sweet cherries (and other dark fruits and vegetables) their deep, red color. Research has shown that phenolics have a role in anti-cancer and anti-invasive activities, fighting the proliferation of certain types of cancer, including colon and breast cancers.
2. Satisfy your sweet tooth without derailing diet (and exercise) plans.
Sweet cherries boast a lower glycemic index than almost any other fruit. They release glucose slowly and evenly, helping blood sugar levels stay steady longer and making them the perfect treat to satisfy a sweet craving without the sugar spike. Plus, if exercise is part of your wellness routine for 2021, you can feel good about enjoying a daily serving after a workout: The anti-inflammatory properties of sweet cherries can help muscles recover more quickly so you can keep moving.
3. Get better sleep.
Sweet cherries are one of the few plant sources of melatonin, and they are also a natural source of serotonin and tryptophan. Together, these compounds appear to aid in improving the quantity and quality of sleep. For the best results, try eating a serving of cherries about an hour before bedtime to stabilize and regulate your sleep patterns.
4. Reduce your stress levels.
With so many stressors in the world, what you’re eating doesn’t have to be among them. Cherries check many dietary boxes if you’re trying to be more intentional about what you put in your body: Vegan or plant-based? Check. Gluten-free? Check. High fiber? Check. Low fat? Check. Low calorie? Check. Sweet cherries are a stress-free, nutritious choice for just about any diet plan, and they have one more superpower: serotonin. In studies, serotonin has been shown to be an important factor in reducing stress and improving mood.
Incorporating nutrient-rich foods into your diet is just one easy way to boost health and improve well-being. If you’re standing in the fruit aisle and unsure about what to choose, let sweet cherries be your start. To learn more about the health benefits of cherries, visit nwcherries.com/sweethealth.