They’re one of the world’s favourite fruits due to their sweet taste and ability to be made into wine and juice, but cherries are special for other reasons too. Eating cherries before bed could actually help you sleep, protect you from disease and boost your immune system. We explain how, next.
Cherries before bed: The surprising sleep aid
Evidence exists that cherries have been cultivated by humans for 10,000 years! However it’s not the history of this fruit that makes it so interesting. Rather it’s the fact that cherries are a natural sleep aid.
That’s because eating cherries before bed can directly help you sleep due to the significant presence of melatonin in cherries. This hormone regulates the sleep-wake cycle and is so important to our sleep health that often individuals who are struggling to sleep – or have been diagnosed with insomnia – are prescribed melatonin.
The fact cherries are a rich natural source of the sleep hormone melatonin means this remarkable fruit could act as a sleep aid for individuals suffering with insomnia.
Cherries are also a good source of tryptophan – an essential amino acid that we don’t produce naturally, and which we must obtain through diet. Supplementing with this amino acid appears to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep as tryptophan helps your body produce that all important sleep hormone – melatonin! Therefore eating cherries before bed could be a great way to top up your natural melatonin levels at the right time.
Tart cherry juice, in particular, has been studied in regards to being a potential treatment for insomnia sufferers. One study even came to the conclusion that ‘tart cherry juice concentrate provides an increase in exogenous melatonin that is beneficial in improving sleep duration and quality’.
Eating cherries before bed, or drinking tart cherry juice, could help sleep quality and onset due to the significant presence of melatonin in cherries. This hormone is vitally important in the sleep-wake cycle.
Eating cherries before bed: Any other HEALTH benefits?
Any food that helps you get a good night’s sleep is welcomed, but did you know cherries also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties?
That’s important as many major diseases like heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are often linked to chronic inflammation. Therefore incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet – like cherries and grapes – is a no-brainer.
Those powerful anti-inflammatory properties means studies have found that eating cherries could be beneficial for individuals suffering from arthritis and diabetes, and may even improve brain function.
Cherries also contain potent antioxidants, mainly due to the presence of anthocyanins – a compound that gives them their distinct color!
Antioxidant rich foods – like cherries – help protect your body and can even reverse damage that has been done by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress comes about when there’s an imbalance between free radical molecules (which can cause harm) and antioxidants. That imbalance then causes illness and tissue damage. The result can be the development of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and many others. Therefore eating antioxidant foods – like chia seeds or cherries – should be a priority.
The science has been backed up too. One study concluded that consuming cherries could help improve degenerative diseases caused by oxidative stress, another states that ‘their consumption may have the potential to reduce cardiovascular or chronic diseases in humans’, whilst another concluded that cherries could even be anti-cancer.
Cherries have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Because of that, several studies have shown eating cherries to have a positive effect on health, protect against disease, and boost the immune system.
Eating cherries before bed: Incorporating them into your diet
Cherries can be found in shops and supermarkets around the world. They are delicious and can be eaten in their natural form, and so are easy to incorporate into your diet.
There are many different ways to incorporate cherries into your diet too. You can use them as a topping for porridge, yoghurt or muesli, as part of a smoothie or fruit salad, or even eaten with ice cream. A glass of cherry juice with your evening meal will also provide the health benefits of cherries too.
Eating cherries before bed: What about side effects?
If you’re not allergic to cherries then moderate consumption of cherries shouldn’t cause any side effects. However eating cherries in excess could lead to weight gain due to the high sugar content, as well as side effects like bloating, gas, diarrhoea and heartburn.
As always, we recommend consulting with your doctor if undertaking a diet change, or if you have concerns about how a specific food may interact with any preexisting conditions or medicines.