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Skin Health is a Bowl of Cherries

A handful a day can keep the cancer away.
A handful a day can keep the cancer away.

February is National Cherry Month, and with all the skin (and overall) health benefits, there’s definitely reason to celebrate! While old wives’ tales for years have touted the health benefits of cherries, science is finally catching up, revealing that several compounds make cherries excellent cancer fighters and inflammation relievers.

Cherries: The Cancer-Fighting Fruit

All cancers, skin cancer included, are abnormal cell growths. Something makes cells mutate, and the change turns off the mechanism that tells cells to stop dividing. Free radicals, molecules that require an additional electron to be stable, are often the cause of the mutation. Free radicals compromise the chemical structure of otherwise healthy tissue by robbing an electron. The key to cancer prevention and disease fighting, then, are antioxidants, compounds that bind to and neutralize free radicals so that they can’t damage healthy cells.

Cherries are packed full of antioxidants like:

• Queritrin, a flavonoid that fights cancerous cells.
• Ellagic Acid, a phenolic, is an anti-mutagenic compound, perhaps one of nature’s most effective cancer prevention substances.
• Perillyl Alcohol (POH) inhibits cancer growth by robbing cancer cells of proteins they need. Research shows POH is effective in fighting all types of cancers.

The antioxidant content of cherries is on par with other superfoods like blueberries and pomegranates, making it a valuable addition to any nutritious diet.

Cherries to Reduce Redness

In addition to the potent antioxidants, cherries also contain anthocyanins and bioflavonoids that help reduce inflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties are usually connected with arthritis relief, but cherries don’t limit where they work. A diet with a powerful dose of cherries may help to reduce redness and puffiness on your face.

Cherriezzzzzz

It’s not just the anthocyanins in cherries that help reduce skin irritation…it’s the melatonin, the sleepy chemical. Melatonin is typically not found in food; it’s produced in the body by the pineal gland. But research has shown that melatonin is a naturally occurring substance in cherries, making them a good nighttime snack. Improved quality and quantity of sleep comes with its own host of skin health benefits (we told you about them a while back…check out Sleep and Your Skin).

Enjoy Cherries In and Out of Season

Although this month is the national observation of cherry admiration, cherries aren’t really in season until early summer. But you don’t have to wait until June to experience the benefits of the antioxidant-packed, anti-inflammatory, sleep-aiding fruit. Cherry juice bottles all the skin-friendly goodness and makes it available year round. Do read the labels, though. Don’t settle for cherry flavored, fructose-filled soft drinks. Look for real red or black tart cherry juice concentrate.

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