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What are the health benefits of eating cherries?

Cherries don't just taste good. A source of dietary fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants, they are good for you, too. Tart cherries pack an even greater antioxidant punch.

If you live close to where cherries are grown, take the family for a day of picking fruit in the orchard. It's great fun and there is no better way to teach children about where our food comes from. And you won't find a better tasting cherry than one that you have just harvested.

"Cherries are a superfruit, and a rich source of powerful disease-fighting antioxidants called anthocyanin's, which give cherries their cherry-red color," says Wendy Brazilian, D.Ph., RD, author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet and nutrition advisor at Golden Door fitness resort and spa in Escondido, California. She notes that "anthocyanin's, also found in raspberries, blueberries and beets, help scavenge nitric oxide and decrease inflammation in the body—an important risk factor for heart disease."

In a recent animal study, a cherry-enriched diet lowered total cholesterol and triglycerides, further suggesting the potential benefits of cherries for heart health. Fresh, sweet cherries are abundant in summertime, but you can find cherries year-round. Look for dried or frozen tart cherries, or tart cherry juice. Try dried cherries in your oatmeal, muffins or salads, or sauteed over fish. Add frozen cherries to smoothies and use cherry juice in sauces and salad dressings, or as a beverage (add to green tea or drink alone).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.