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Seasonal superfood: cherries

From: Happy Food,

Seasonal superfood: cherries

If you’ve slipped off the healthy eating bandwagon recently and you’re feeling the effects, you don’t need to wait until January to make a few new resolutions. The beginning of a new month is the perfect opportunity to start afresh and rethink your eating or fitness routine. We might not have a post-Christmas bulge to spur us on, but with summer finally on its way (please) and holidays on the horizon, this July we’ve got plenty of reason to eat healthy, but one of the most inspiring has to be the cherry, which comes into season this month. Apart from being our favourite flavour of lip balm, these little red super-fruits are packed full of health boosting vitamins and antioxidants. Here are the top five reasons to make them one of your five a day...

1. Antioxidants

Cherries get their deep red colour from antioxidants called anthocyanins. Despite sounding a bit like ‘cyanide’, these natural amino acids are incredibly good for you and have been proven to protect the body from the effects of oxygen, nitrogen, and UV rays, reducing the chances of heart disease and cancer. Other evidence suggests that anthocyanins also help prevent dementia - giving cherries a reputation as “brain food”. Administered as a treatment for gout since the 1950s, the antioxidants in cherries also help reduce inflammation and can help symptoms of arthritis. 

2. Melatonin

More good news, cherries are one of the few foods to contain melatonin. Another antioxidant, melatonin helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm (natural body clock), serving as something of a natural sleep aid. Without enough of it our sleep can be disturbed which is why synthetic forms of melatonin are used to treat jet lag and insomnia. Best of all, evidence states that melatonin can also help delay the ageing process as well as lowering the risk of cancer and heart disease. So long cocoa, there’s a new sleep aid in town…

3. Beta-carotene

Cherries are also an excellent source of beta-carotene which the body converts into vitamin A. We need vitamin A to keep skin healthy, maintain our immune system, boost eye health and vision and build mucus membranes – not as gross as it sounds. Compared to rival red fruits, strawberries and, fellow super foods, blueberries, cherries contain 19 times more beta-carotene making them - we're sure you'll agree - king of the fruit bowl.

4. Disease and diabetes

If all those anti-oxidants aren’t enough for you, cherries are also rich in vitamins C and E, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate and fibre (good for digestion). Combined, all this goodness helps to boost health and protect against diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer and inflammatory diseases in the body. Cherries are also known to help diabetes, with a study by Michigan State University finding that anthocyanins (there they are again) could enhance insulin production by almost 50% in the pancreatic cells. No wonder many doctors and dieticians recommend fresh cherries and black cherry juice to help diabetics control blood sugar levels. 

5. Weight loss

With approximately 50 calories in 100g, cherries make a great snack for anyone trying to shed a few pounds before hitting the beach. If you’re aiming to lose weight by combining healthy eating with a spot of exercise you’ll be pleased to learn that because of their anti-inflammatory benefits, cherries are also believed to reduce pain in the muscles and joints post-workout. Still not convinced? Tart or black cherries also have a reputation for shifting stubborn stomach fat. Did someone say bikini?

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It's easy enough to decide you want to eat well - the hard part is finding the right foods to keep you healthy and satisfy your tastebuds. The Wahanda Tasters have lots of food and drink ideas to have you looking good, feeling good and bursting with energy in no time. And no, they don't all involve wheatgrass.

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