bowl of cherries
Brittany Hambleton
Brittany Hambleton
January 16, 2024 ·  6 min read

Cherries Are the Bedtime Snack You Didn’t Know You Needed

Every time I see a wine-red, glossy cherry with a slender green stalk, I get strangely jealous. How can something so tiny be so gorgeous? Cherries are highly underrated. These fruits are everything and more if you want to live a happy & healthy life. Cherries are the pride of North America and Europe. These nutritious fruits are rich in vitamin C, fiber, powerful antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds. Cherries are refreshing and nourishing, and you don’t have to worry about them affecting your blood sugar levels too much. These fruits are diabetic friendly as they are low to moderate on the glycemic index (depending on the type of cherry) and they also contain many beneficial bioactive compounds like vitamin C, fiber, anthocyanins, and even melatonin [1].

You could easily argue that these fruits are essential for good health and should be incorporated into our daily diet plans. 100 grams of this fruit contains 63 calories, 16g of carbs, 2g of dietary fiber, 12% of the RDA of vitamin C, and 0g of fat [2].

Here are five amazing health benefits of these lovely fruits [3]:

Cherries help you get a good night sleep

A glass of natural cherry juice before bedtime is helpful for managing chronic insomnia. Relative to other foods, cherries contain a generous amount of naturally occurring melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle [4]. Melatonin is often supplemented as a short-term treatment for insomnia. Instead of popping a pill, try eating some cherries or drinking some pure cherry juice one hour before bed if you have a hard time sleeping. A 2011 study published in the Natural Medicine Journal investigated the effects of cherry juice on the sleeping patterns of 20, healthy young men and women. The participants were aged between 18 and 40, where one group received 85.2 mcg/day of exogenous melatonin from tart cherry juice daily. The other group received a commercial fruit beverage that did not contain any melatonin.

At the end of the 28-day study, it was concluded from urine samples that consumption of natural cherry juice increases melatonin levels and is beneficial for the improvement of sleep efficiency and duration.

These fruits may help fight diabetes

Tart cherries get their red color from an abundance of anthocyanins, a class of naturally-occurring pigment compounds found in many fruits [6]. One of the earlier studies in 2004 (published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemist) found that anthocyanins increased insulin production by up to 50% [7].

It is possible that consumption of cherries and other fruits containing these compounds [anthocyanins] could have a significant impact on insulin levels in humans,” says Dr. Muralee Nair, leader of the study.

A more recent 2017 study also found that dietary anthocyanins from these fruits (and other fruits) seem to target insulin sensitivity and potentially have the capacity to help with conditions like diabetes [15].  

Cherries a great for muscle recovery

Nearly everyone has experienced a form of demoralizing muscle soreness at some point in their life. You go to the gym with so much enthusiasm and draw up a serious workout schedule, only to give up the next day when you wake up with painfully sore muscles. Well, these fruits are here for you. These fruits are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that help address inflammation and muscle soreness after sports or a workout.

A 2019 study published in the European Journal of Sports investigated the effects of Montmorency tart cherries on muscle damage [8]. The study involved twenty, healthy and physically active females, where one group consumed 30ml of cherry juice twice a day for 8 days. The study concluded that females in the MC juice group recorded higher jump heights in the subsequent days and showed lesser signs of muscle damage.

Cherries after workout are can be used for the enhancement of muscle recovery and reduction of inflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties are also thought to help in reducing the symptoms of arthritis and other joint-focused conditions [9] . Another reason to add cherries to your diet.

Cherries are great for maintaining a healthy weight

Eating foods rich in fiber helps to reduce unwholesome appetites and regulate the number of times a person has to eat solid food. Fibrous foods are thought to inhibit the production of hunger-inducing hormones [10].

A 100-gram serving of these fruits contains about 2g of fiber, and regular consumption of these fruits may help to manage weight gain and reduce the consumption of fatty and highly caloric food. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food investigated the effects of these fruits on body fat in rats [11]. The study concluded that there was a positive correlation between tart cherry consumption and reduced body fat, especially around the stomach.

Choose a bowl of inviting tart cherries over fries, fried chicken with thick skin, fatty beef, and cheese. It’s not easy, but it’s doable.

Cherries help to lower high blood pressure

A 2018 study investigated the impact of these fruits of systolic blood pressure and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) in older adults [12]. The study involved 37 participants aged between 65 and 80. They were grouped to consume 480ml of cherry juice or a control drink for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, it was discovered that those who drank cherry juice had significantly lower systolic blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels than those in the control group.

Hypertension, as many know is a risk factor for heart disease [13]. Drinking cherry juice regularly may help to maintain blood pressure and cholesterol levels, keeping you healthy, fit and sound, especially in your golden years.

Here’s how to properly enjoy your cherries

It doesn’t matter whether you are a fan of sweet cherries (Bing, Chelan, and Tulare) or Montmorency tart cherries (also called sour cherries). As long as you love the taste, you can enjoy the fruits in several different ways, first of which is eating them whole and spitting out the piths. I personally like to have my whole cherries chilled. Be careful not to chew the piths or swallow them because as they contain small amounts of cyanide [14]. Accidentally ingesting the odd pit here or there is of no worry.

Squeeze the nutrients out of every cherry fruit you can get. You can enjoy them as unadulterated fruit juice, shakes, smoothies, pies, fruit salad, sundaes (my favorite), cherry chutney, and cherry cakes. Be creative with them and remember to eat some right before you sleep.

Keep Reading: How to Fix Your Sleep Problems with Science

  1. ‘Cherries for Diabetics: Should They Be Part Of Your Diet?’ Healthline Scott Frothingham. Published January 30, 2019
  2. Generic 100g (S).Myfitness Pal
  3. CHERRIES ARE THE BEDTIME SNACK YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED.’ Well and Good. Well And Good. Jessica Migala. Published January 29, 2019.
  4. Melatonin and sleep’ Sleep Foundation
  5. AnthocyaninsScience Direct Burton-Freeman, Britt and Edirisinghe. Published 2016.
  6. Chemicals Found In Cherries May Help Fight Diabetes. Science Direct. Science Daily. Published December 21, 2014.
  7. ‘Montmorency tart cherry (Prunus cerasus L.) supplementation accelerates recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage in females.’ Pubmed Brown MA, et al. Published February, 2019.
  8. How Cherries Help Fight Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Arthritis Foundation. 12-01-16
  9. How Eating Fiber Can Help You Lose Belly FatHealthline Ryan Raman. Published February 4, 2017.
  10. Tart Cherry Juice and Belly FatHealthfully Jill Corleone.
  11. Impact of tart cherry juice on systolic blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in older adults: a randomized controlled trial.Pubmed. Chai SC et al. Published June 20, 2018.
  12. How High Blood Pressure Can Lead to a Heart AttackAmerican Heart Association
  13. I Swallowed A Cherry Pit!’ Poison Control
  14. ‘Dietary Anthocyanins and Insulin Resistance: When Food Becomes a Medicine’ Pubmed Tarun Belwal et. al. Published October 2017.