How Sweet Cherries Can Support Your Winter Wellness


3 Ways Sweet Cherries Support Your Winter Wellness Routine


(BPT) - Sweet cherries may conjure images of hot summer days, so who knew that they could be a year-round staple for good health? These sweet snacks provide just the wintertime boost needed to stay on track with any fitness and nutrition New Year’s resolutions.

Winter can pose a challenge to eating right and staying in shape. Certainly, nothing beats the flavor of fresh sweet cherries, but with some preparation and creativity, their goodness can be enjoyed all year long. Those who stocked up on sweet Northwest cherries during their short harvest window and planned ahead to freeze, can or dry them now have a bounty of flavor and nutrients to fuel some of the most grueling months of the year (and for those who didn’t, a trip to the freezer or dried food aisles at the supermarket may work just as well!).

“Maintaining a fitness routine can be challenging during the winter. For many of us, it’s dark and it’s cold, yet despite all the reasons we may want to shake off our routines, paying attention to our health and focusing on nutrition now will set us up for better health year-round,” says Kelly Pritchett, PhD, RD, CSSD, Associate Professor of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Central Washington University.

“One of my favorite wintertime health hacks is incorporating sweet cherries into my diet,” continues Pritchett. “Cherries often get overlooked when the warmer months fade, and yet they’re a tremendously versatile fruit and are easy to weave into everything from oatmeal to smoothies. Sweet cherries also offer an abundance of health benefits and can be a great natural health aid for winter sports.”

Sweet cherries are a natural and tasty source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium and melatonin. They also contain anthocyanins — the pigment that gives dark sweet cherries their deep and delicious color — which are linked to anti-inflammatory effects. According to Pritchett, anyone with a training regimen can realize at least three distinct benefits from adding cherries to their daily fruit intake.

A few of Pritchett’s winter training regime tips include:

  1. Decrease your muscle soreness:

  2. Several studies involving athletes suggest that cherry consumption can reduce muscle soreness and also help return loss of strength. By incorporating fresh, frozen or dried cherries into their diets, fitness fanatics may recover more quickly for the next workout.

  3. Improve your quality of sleep:

  4. Everyone needs a good night’s rest, and the melatonin in sweet cherries can promote sleep quality. Sleep is critical to everything from restoring energy to boosting immunity to enhancing metabolism. A serving of sweet cherries about an hour before bedtime can help stabilize and regulate sleep patterns.

  5. Boost your post-workout recovery:

  6. A body that goes through a strenuous exercise routine needs to recover, and dried sweet cherries are an ideal post-workout snack. They provide healthy carbohydrates and help replace glycogen, which gets the body ready for its next go-around.

For those pursuing health and fitness goals, incorporating sweet cherries into the daily routine is one of the best ways to show some love and stay on track. More information about the health benefits of sweet cherries and the studies that support them is available at

Sweet cherries are a flavorful source of potassium1 as well as important nutritional properties and bioactive compounds, including:

  • Polyphenolics: anthocyanins, flavonoids, hydroxycinnamic acids
  • Indolamines: tryptophan, melatonin, serotonin

These compounds, gained through consuming dark sweet cherries, contribute to a host of beneficial effects on certain diseases and conditions.



  • Hypertension is a risk factor in cardiovascular disease, and studies suggest phenolic acids found in cherries and produced by anthocyanin metabolism exert vasorelaxing and antihypertensive effects. 2


  • In lab studies, the phenolic compounds of sweet cherries appear to inhibit breast cancer cell growth without toxicity to normal cells.3
  • Sweet cherry extracts have been shown to inhibit proliferation of colon and breast cancer cells in several published studies4
  • Sweet cherries contain perillyl alcohol – shown to be capable of inhibiting pancreatic, breast, liver, colon, skin and lung cancers – which raises the fruit’s anti-carcinogenic activity.5


  • Anthocyanins found in foods like sweet cherries inhibit lipid peroxidation, which has a hand in reducing CVD risk factors.6
  • Anthocyanin interference with inflammation pathways can help in prevention of CVD.7


  • Improved brain and visual function may result from anthocyanin’s interference in inflammation pathways.8
  • Anthocyanins appear to exert neuroprotection, resulting in a beneficial effect on cognitive decline and neurodegeneration associated with aging.9
  • Consumption of anthocyanins from cherries appears to improve memory and cognition in older adults with mild-to-moderate dementia.10


  • The polyphenols in cherries appear to help diminish hyperglycaemia, oxidative stress and inflammatory markers that are predictors of diabetes mellitus.11
  • Cherry extracts reduce glucose blood levels and protect pancreatic beta-cells from oxidative damage, enabling them to continue balanced production of insulin.12


  • Consumption of cherries can significantly decrease plasma urate, which provides anti-gout efficacy. 13
  • Phenolics appear to interfere with the oxidative process as free radical terminators, ultimately decreasing formation of volatile decomposition products that contribute to gout.14
  • Sweet cherries compared favorably to NSAID controls using ibuprofen and naproxen to alleviate gout symptoms. 15


  • Eating cherries significantly decreased C-reactive protein and nitrous oxide concentrations, both known pro-inflammatory factors.16
  • Consuming cherries was found to decrease plasma concentrations of eight biomarkers associated with inflammatory diseases (CRP, ferritin, IL-18, TNFα, IL-1Ra, ET-1, EN-RAGE and PAI-1).17
  • Polyphenols in cherries may minimize or prevent inflammation and oxidative stress, which may be risk factors for diseases like arthritis, diabetes, cancer and hypertension.18


  • The presence of tryptophan, serotonin and melatonin in sweet cherries interact with cherry phenolics to help regulate sleep cycles.19


  • Cherry phenolics appear to protect neuronal cells from cell-damaging oxidative stress.20
  • Various studies have shown serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that reduces stress and improves mood.21
  1. “Sweet and sour cherries: Origin, distribution, nutritional composition and health benefits.” Federica Blando and B. Dave Oomah. Trends in Food Science & Technology 86 (2019) 517-529.
  2. Blando, et al.
  3. “Dark sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) phenolics as dietary chemopreventive/therapeutic compounds for aggressive breast cancer cell growth with no toxicity to normal breast cells.” Layosa MA, Lage NN, Martens-Talcott SU, Talcott St, Pedrosa ML, Chew BP and Noratto GD.
  4. “Nutrients, Bioactive Compounds and Bioactivity: The Health Benefits of Sweet Cherries.” Ana C. Gonçalves, Catarina Bento, Branca Silva, Manuel Simões, Luís R. Silva. Current Nutrition & Food Science, 2019 15, 208-227.
  5. Gonçalves, et al.
  6. Blando, et al.
  7. Blando, et al.
  8. Blando, et al.
  9. Blando, et al.
  10. “Acute reduction in blood pressure following consumption of anthocyanin-rich cherry juice may be dose-interval dependant: a pilot cross-over study.” Katherine Kent, Karen E. Charlton, Andrew Jenner and Steven Roodenrys. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 2016, 67:1, 47-52.
  11. Gonçalves, et al.
  12. Gonçalves, et al.
  13. Blando, et al.
  14. “Is there a role for cherries in the management of gout?” Marcum W. Collins Kenneth G. Saag, Jasvinder A. Singh. Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease, 2019, Vol. 11: 1-16.
  15. Collins, et al.
  16. “Consumption of ‘Bing’ sweet cherries lowers circulating concentrations of inflammation markers in healthy men and women.” Kelley, D. S., Rasooly, R., Jacob, R. A., Kader, A. A. & Mackey, B. M. Journal of Nutrition, 2006, 136, 981–986.
  17. “Sweet Bing Cherries Lower Circulating Concentrations of Markers for Chronic Inflammatory Diseases in Healthy Humans.” Darshan S. Kelley, Yuriko Adkins, Aurosis Reddy, Leslie R. Woodhouse, Bruce E. Mackey and Kent L. Erickson. The Journal of Nutrition, American Society of Nutrition, 2013, doi: 10.3845/jn.112.171371.
  18. Kelley, et al., 2013.
  19. Gonçalves, et al.20 Blando, et al.
  20. Blando, et al.
  21. “The consumption of a Jerte Valley cherry product in humans enhances mood, and increases 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid but reduces cortisol levels in urine.” María Garrido, Javier Espino, David González-Gómez, Mercedes Lozano, Carmen Barriga, Sergio D. Paredes, Ana B. Rodríguez. Experimental Gerontology, 2012, 47, 573–580.