For many of us, this is the best time of the year when fruits and vegetables are plentiful! One of my very favorite fruits are cherries. I just can’t get enough of them in July, when they’re in season. Not surprising is that my favorite pie flavor is cherry, too. In addition to the fact that they’re plump and juicy and just taste amazing, they actually can help with sleep. No kidding! Read on and I’ll tell you how.
Most of us have heard of melatonin, right? It’s a hormone (produced in our pineal gland in the brain) that helps regulate our circadian rhythm, or internal clocks. Cherries are one of the few foods that offer a natural source of melatonin, and thus can help us get a good night’s sleep. Drinking a glass before bedtime can really help with insomnia and sleeping through the night. Some studies recommend drinking the juice a couple hours before going to bed, too.
Which Cherries to Buy?
Actually, all cherries have melatonin so take your pick. The most important thing (and why I write this blog), is to make sure you buy them organically. Non-organic cherries can carry some of the highest loads of pesticides and are listed almost every year in the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen List” of fruits and vegetables to consider buying organically. Here’s this year’s most current release: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.ph
Cherries are also bursting with antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. All of which can help support a healthy system and may reduce the risk of certain types of cancers.
Did you know that cherries can carry these extra health benefits?
- High in Vitamin C, they help with boosting your immune system, skin health, blood pressure regulation and nerve function
- Aids with those suffering from arthritis and gout by reducing uric acid levels
- Reduces inflammation throughout the body, protecting at the cellular level
- Can boost exercise recovery, reducing muscle damage and soreness
- Reduces heart disease due to the higher intake of potassium and polyphenols or micro-nutrients full of antioxidants
- Easy to add to one’s diet year-round-seasonal, dried, juices and frozen
While doing extra research on cherries, I stumbled on this family-owned organic fruit farm website with some awesome recipes using cherries! Here’s one I’m trying this week. (While they’re located in WA state, they do sell their fruit to King Soopers and Whole Foods)
Recipe for Cherry Tabbouleh
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (we like to use multicolored quinoa)
2/3 pound cherries, pitted and halved
2 Persian cucumbers, sliced into thin rounds
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- In a small bowl combine the olive oil, orange zest, and juice.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper then mix with a whisk until combined.
- In a large bowl combine the quinoa and the dressing. Mix well.
- Add the cherries, cucumbers, basil, and onion to two bowls.
- Toss to combine then taste. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
For more of their recipes, check out their site: www.stemilt.com
A Word of Caution
Portion control is very important with cherries! They’re high in sugar so while they’re in season be careful you don’t overconsume, as they’re also likely to cause loose stools when one eats too many 🙂
On a final note, if you find that you have good luck with eating cherries and sleeping better, remember that you can buy frozen cherries in the winter (which is what I do). During the winter, I also buy cherry supplements in tablet form for the immune boosting benefits. Your doctor or many times, the store specialist, can help you determine the dosage.
In the meantime, take advantage of the season and Cherry On! I know, it’s corny 🙂
Peace and Good Health,
Environmental Working Group-Dirty Dozen List
Stemilt.com – https://www.stemilt.com/stem-blog/cherry-tabbouleh/
University of Texas Health Science Center – Russel Reiter
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