There’s something lovely about eating fruits and vegetables at the peak of freshness.
One of my favourite fruits is cherries. And I’m not alone because there is an entire day dedicated to them!
Yes, National Cherry Day takes place on 17th July and has been running since 2008, in a bid to save the British cherry. Why? Well, during the 20th century, we’ve lost 90% of our cherry orchards. They have increased with concerted efforts between 2003 and 2008, but we’re still importing around 95% of our cherries. [source] And that’s such a shame when they grow so well here.
National cherry day takes place in the peak of the British cherry season, so it’s the perfect time to seek them out in a farm shop, greengrocer or pick your own farm. Not only do they taste amazing, but there are some surprising health benefits to eating cherries too. Here are five of them:
Five surprising health benefits of eating cherries
If you’re suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or gout, a handful of cherries might be your next best friend! The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reported that consumption of fresh cherries or cherry extract over a 2-day period was associated with a 35% lower risk of gout attacks. While consumption of fresh or canned cherries prevented attacks of arthritis and resulted in greater freedom of joint movements in some patients. [source]
Lowers blood pressure
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition report that Montmorency tart cherry consumption acutely reduces systolic blood pressure in men with early hypertension.[source] People who drank 60ml of cherry concentrate, diluted with water, saw their blood pressure drop by 7 per cent within three hours. [source].
In another study, the British Journal of Nutrition discovered that cherry juice may help reduce blood pressure due to its high polyphenol content. [source]
Vitamins and minerals
A handful of cherries will boost your vitamin and mineral intake plus provide one of your five-a-day (according to the NHS, you need around 14 cherries for this). Cherries are a nutritionally dense food rich in potassium, fibre and vitamin C.
Speeds up post-exercise recovery
There’s good new for athletes who suffer from muscle burn too! The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that ingesting tart cherry juice for 7 days prior to and during a strenuous running event can minimise post-run muscle pain.
Helps you sleep
Research by the European Journal of Nutrition found that consumption of a tart cherry juice concentrate increases melatonin that is beneficial in improving sleep. This small pilot study suggested that tart cherry juice can modestly improve sleep in older adults with insomnia.
If you’re dreaming of kissing someone under the mistletoe this Christmas, then you’d do well to support national cherry day! Cherry trees host mistletoe and are critical to its survival in Britain. And while we’re talking about the winter months, did you know that before the invention of the hot water bottle, heated cherry stones were placed in pans to warm up beds on cold winter nights!?