Which one, you're wondering? Sweet cherries—specifically, Northwest-grown sweet cherries. Thanks to being high in serotonin (studies show that not having enough serotonin may be linked to increased stress) summer's favorite stone fruit could help you keep your cool, in more ways than one.
On the same note, a good night's sleep never hurt anyone's mood: "Cherries are naturally rich in melatonin, the chemical that helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle and might even help to tame irritability," says nutritionist and author Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN.
And stress-busting is just one of the benefits of sweet cherries. "Cherries have been shown to reduce inflammation which could play a role in promoting heart health and in helping speed up recovery after exercising," she says.
Plus, one serving gives you three grams of fiber, which can help fuel gut bacteria and support a healthy immune system, Taub-Dix says. Cherries have also been shown to reduce oxidative stress in the body, and with their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may also help with symptoms of arthritis. Oh hey, super fruit.
Now that you know all about the benefits of sweet cherries, keep scrolling for five delicious ways to eat them.
Double-down on baking
Odds are you've realized lately just how helpful stress-baking can be for your mood, and with cherries as a star ingredient, you can take the chill vibes one step further.
Add cherries to the stay-at-home dessert du jour with Taub-Dix' Banana Cherry Berry Bread or take a stab at a classic cherry pie. Because they're naturally sweet, cherries can sweeten all sorts of baked goods from bars to cobblers to crumbles without having to add much sugar, Taub-Dix says.
Dry cherries to enjoy later
While we all might wish sweet cherry season was longer than a few months, it is possible to enjoy them year-round. Simply dry cherries by cutting them in half, removing the pits, then bake them for at least six hours at 140 degrees, and you've got yourself a sweet, slightly sticky snack to eat plain, add to salads, or bake into your fave dish. Raisins, who?
Upgrade your snack plate
You might not think of cherries as a charcuterie board staple, but the stone fruit is a surprising element that can really take your smorgasbord-style snack or dinner to the next level. Taub-Dix pairs fresh cherries with ricotta cheese and chopped nuts for a delicious and filling snack (brb, drooling), which—thanks to all the cherries you're going to dry—you can munch on through every season.
DIY fresh jam
If you want a fresh, homemade yogurt or toast topper, just go the jam route. When you DIY your own cherry jelly, you control how much added sugar you put into your jar. File jam-making under your weekend plans—or, if you don't have the time right now...
Freeze 'em for treats
"You can’t have too many cherries," says Taub-Dix, who recently used frozen cherries to make this cherry-chia jam. "But if you do buy more than you can consume, you can pit and freeze cherries and use them in smoothies and jams well after their sweet season ends."
Heads up: Cherry season is only a couple months (shorter than most fruits'), so stock up in July while you have the chance. That way, you'll always have them on hand for a Cherry Lime Smoothie. Once you taste it, you'll want to keep a bag of frozen cherries in your freezer for, like, ever.
Sponsored by Northwest Cherries
Photos: Northwest Cherries
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