Cherries boast a laundry list of healing powers. For starters, they pack a powerful nutritional punch for a relatively low calorie count. They're also packed with substances that help fight inflammation and cancer. As if that weren't enough, in lab studies, quercetin and ellagic acid, two compounds contained in cherries, have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors and even cause cancer cells to commit suicide -- without damaging healthy cells. Cherries also have antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Anthocyanin, another compound in cherries, is credited with lowering the uric acid levels in the blood, thereby reducing a common cause of gout. Researchers believe anthocyanins may also reduce your risk of colon cancer. Further, these compounds work like a natural form of ibuprofen, reducing inflammation and curbing pain. Regular consumption may help lower risk of heart attack and stroke.
In Chinese medicine, cherries are routinely used as a remedy for gout, arthritis, and rheumatism (as well as anemia, due to their high iron content). Plus they're delicious.
How much: Aim for a daily serving while they're in season locally. And keep a bag of frozen cherries in your freezer the rest of the year; frozen cherries retain 100 percent of their nutritional value and make a great addition to smoothies, yogurt, and oatmeal.
- Buy organic or wash thoroughly, since conventionally grown cherries can be high in pesticides.