Cherries are certainly one of today’s most popular dessert fruits, but they have been recognized for their medicinal purposes since the 1400’s. One cup of sweet cherries has just 90 calories and is a good source of fiber and vitamin C. With these great attributes, it’s no wonder why many nutritionists, dietitians, and other health professionals often refer to cherries as a super food. Read on to learn about the many “super-powers” of cherries: Cherries and Antioxidants: Did you know that cherries rank among the top 20 foods with the highest concentration of antioxi- dants. In fact, the standard one-cup serving of cherries has the capacity to carry 4,873 antioxidants! Antioxidants are substances found in foods that may protect cells from damage caused by unstable molecules, known as free radicals. Cherries are especially rich in a phytochemical called anthocyanin. They also contain melatonin, phenols and quercetin. Cherries and Melatonin: There are many instances in life when your sleep patterns are disrupted. Whether it is expected jet lag or an ongoing sleep disorder, fresh cherries and the melatonin they contain can be an ally for you! Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It plays a key role in regulating the body’s internal clock and helps determine when we fall asleep and when we wake up. Eating a handful of cherries just before bed is a great way to naturally regulate your sleep cycle. Cherries, Arthritis and Pain Relief: Great news for arthritis sufferers! A bowl full of cherries may help alleviate pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and gout, the most severe form of arthritis. A gout attack occurs when exces- sive amounts of uric acid (waste product found in the blood) accumulate in the joints, and cause in- flammation and pain. Back in 2004, researchers from the Agriculture Research Service and University of California-Davis teamed up to study the effects consuming cherries could have on reducing pains caused by gout. They found that participants who ate 45 sweet cherries during breakfast significantly decreased their blood plasma levels while simultaneously increasing the amount of uric acid removed through urine. Accord- ing to the researchers, these two changes are signs of a healthy immune system fighting inflamma- tion. Cherries and Heart Health: Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, is the single leading cause of death in America. One of the many health benefits of cherries is that they contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins, which may reduce a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Just like red wine, anthocyanins give cherries their deep red color and also protect cells from dam- age during an interaction with oxygen. This important process also serves to protect the heart and surrounding tissue, inhibit plaque formation and reduce inflammation. Cherries and Brain Health: Cherries are one of the few foods that contain melatonin. In addition to helping regulate sleep pat- terns, melatonin is an important antioxidant that helps maintain optimum brain functioning and may deter the onset of age-related chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s. Research also suggests that the an- thocyanins found in cherries further protect neural cells and promote brain health.