THIS Fruit Is What You Need To Reduce Pain, Sleep Great And Feel Younger
Written by: Sarah Lawrence
If you’re not sweet on tart cherries yet, you should be! These ruby red gems are nothing short of amazing. Tart cherries (the Montmorency variety especially) are packed with anthocyanins, vitamin C and beta-carotene, which are all known to help lower inflammation, reduce oxidative stress and may even be effective in preventing cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Tart cherries have also been found to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time after exercise or physical exertion. And, to sweeten the deal, popping a few of these puckery orbs before bed may help you sleep more soundly and deeply.
Not impressed? Well, here’s the thing… I can’t say that I had an instant love affair with these guys either, but let me tell you what changed my mind. When I try new foods for therapeutic reasons, I give them a solid run. I look at the bang per bite, what I get with each mouthful:
- The antioxidant capacity of food is measured in ORAC units. An ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score shows the amount of oxygen radicals that food can absorb and deactivate. The higher the ORAC score, the better a food’s ability to fight oxidation. Tart cherries are superstars on the ORAC scale. 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of concentrated cherry juice provides 12,800 ORAC units; one ounce serving supplies 3,657 ORAC units (the minimum daily recommended amount of 3,000 units).
- Tart cherries are rich in anthocyanins, which help block the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. Those enzymes are responsible for causing pain reactions in the body. Ouch! That is why some people find tart cherries useful in relieving the pain of arthritis and gout. Thinking of swapping for a sweeter variety? Don’t! Tart Montmorency cherries contain three times the Anthocyanins as sweet varieties; 100 grams of tart cherries contain about 300 mgs of Anthocyanins, while 100 grams of sweet cherries have only 100 mgs.
- Montmorency cherries contain approximately 13.5 ng melatonin per 1 gram of cherries (which is higher than the amount found in blood).
Listen, I’m nothing if not real with you – so, your relationship can’t be a speed dating thing, friend… you’ve gotta get in there for a good few months of the nitty gritty to see if things fit and if there’s some chemistry between the two of you.
When I started sleeping better and having less pain and stiffness in my arthritic joints, I knew. I knew that these beautiful, plump, red and round bits of gorgeous were unleashing their antioxidant goodness and stores of melatonin just for me. I knew it would be a love affair. Lucky for you, there’s good news because tart cherries are abundantly available and I don’t mind sharing.
Raise Your Glass!
Adding tart cherry juice to your routine may have some surprisingly good results, but the only way to know is to try:
- For athletes or anyone engaging in major physical exertion, 1 cup of juice or berries on a daily basis for a week or more before an event and then 2-3 days after.
- For arthritis, gout or chronic pain, drink 10 ounces of unsweetened tart cherry juice twice a day for at least 21 days.
- For sleep, choose 1 cup of unsweetened tart cherry juice about 30 minutes before bed. Cherry juice is a natural source of melatonin and tryptophan; both are known to support healthy sleep cycles.
Taking tart cherries for a spin couldn’t be easier. Here’s how you will find them:
- Frozen. Look in your freezer aisle for 1 pound bags of tart cherries.
- Bottled. Check the bottled juice aisle for pure tart cherry juice (no sugar added, please, or you defeat the purpose).
- Dried. Unsweetened, dried tart cherries should be available at your local natural food store or online.
- Fresh. If you’re lucky enough to be near a Farmer’s Market during cherry season, don’t pass up the treat of fresh, peak season fruit.
Once you’ve found them, it’s time to blow your mind with the culinary possibilities. Beyond the good ol’ pie, cherries shine in salsa, jam, compotes, sauces, snacks and smoothies.
To get you started, here are a few of my favorites. Give them a try and post below to let us know your favorite and ingenious ways to incorporate the little red beauties into a healthy lifestyle.
Tart Cherry Pick Me Up Smoothie
Total Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 2 cups
- 1 cup tart cherry juice
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 teaspoon raw cacao powder or matcha powder
- 1 cup ice
Instructions: Blend. Adjust thickness with water if necessary. Serve.
Anytime Tart Cherry Salsa
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 cup
- 1 cup frozen unsweetened tart cherries
- ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh or canned jalapeno peppers, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- Roughly chop the frozen cherries and put them into a bowl to thaw. Drain into another bowl and reserve 1 tablespoon of the juice for this recipe (and the rest for a smoothie!).
- Once the cherries are thawed, combine in with everything except cilantro; mix well.
- Let the salsa sit for 5 to 10 minutes or longer to help the flavors brighten.
- Serve with tortilla chips or as a topping for just about any protein!
Tart Cherry Soft Serve
Total Time: 10-30 minutes
Yield: 3 cups
- 2 bananas, frozen
- 2 cups frozen unsweetened tart cherries
- ½ cup coconut cream (from the top of a can of coconut milk)
- Pinch of sea salt
- Blend all ingredients in your high speed blender or food processor until smooth.
- Serve immediately for a soft serve style treat or spoon into a freezer safe container and freeze for 20-30 minutes until desired consistency is reached.
- The mixture can also be poured into popsicle molds and frozen for an easy-to-eat, kid friendly treat!
Cherry Pie Snack Poppers
Total Time: 30 minutes (10 to prep, 20 in fridge)
- 1 cup cashews, soaked in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes, then drained
- ½ cup dried unsweetened tart cherries
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or coconut nectar
- Pulse all ingredients in your food processor until the mixture is relatively smooth and it looks like cookie dough.
- Scoop out 1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon portions (your choice) and roll into balls.
- Place the balls on a parchment lined tray and refrigerate until firm.
Sleepy Time Sipper
Total Time: 2 minutes
Yield: 1 cup
- 1 cup unsweetened tart cherry juice
- ½ cup fresh/frozen cherries blended with ½ cup water
Instructions: 30 minutes before bed, pour and drink.
Sarah Lawrence is a Certified Holistic Health and Integrative Nutrition Coach, Speaker and Reiki Master based in Southern NH. Sarah creates lifestyle transformations by coaching her clients to shift from their current habits into healthier ones. Her philosophy is that small changes, over time, can yield big results. By developing a technique that leverages the benefits of whole foods nutritionals, seasonal detoxification, reiki, aromatherapy, meditation and life coaching, Sarah artfully combines her knowledge from years of study in the fields of chemistry, nutrition and energy healing.
Sarah leads clients from frustration due chronic health issues to elation by attaining and sustaining balanced health. Her intuitive style supports true healing on all levels. Sarah studied at Fairfield University and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition; she is pursuing her Masters in Clinical Nutrition and is dedicated to continuing her studies so she can provide the best support for her clients.
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