17 May MENOPAUSE MENU: CHERRIES
My “MENOPAUSE MENU” series is dedicated to exploring foods that can be easily assimilated into your diet and can have a positive effect on menopause-related symptoms. Today’s Menopause Menu is all about cherries. The cherry is a relatively low-calorie fruit (63 kcal/100g) but contains significant amounts of essential nutrients and chemicals such as fiber, potassium, vitamin C, melatonin, serotonin, and tryptophan. Sleep problems and increased inflammation are two known symptoms of menopause, so finding easy options that can potentially help is always a plus. And if those options taste as delicious as cherries, it’s a win-win situation.
Besides being incredibly delicious, studies indicate that cherries can:
- Reduce the risk of several chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease
- Improve sleep, cognitive function, and recovery from post-exercise pain
Tart cherry juice can help you sleep!
Next to hot flashes and night sweats, insomnia is one of the most well-known symptoms of menopause. The link between menopause and sleep disorders is well-established. An estimated 40-60% of women suffer from sleep problems during menopause. 26% report having such severe symptoms that it affects their daytime functioning. You can read more about insomnia and menopause and get tips here, which links to an article I wrote a while back. But because this post is about cherries, let’s stay focused on that. Research indicates that tart Montmorency cherry juice increases melatonin, sleep time, and sleep efficiency in participants. Dr. Stacy Sims recommends that drinking an ice-cold glass of tart cherry juice 30 minutes before bed helps get the core temperature down to ease into sleep.
Tart cherry juice can help your bones!
It is well-known that menopause accelerates bone loss and can lead to osteoporosis. “The first 5–10 years post-menopause, a stage of unstable decreases in the bone-preserving hormone estrogen, is characterized by a rapid phase of bone loss and is a major contributor to the high prevalence of osteoporosis amongst women” (Sundeep, 2010). One study in postmenopausal women revealed that consuming higher doses of tart cherry juice (8 fl oz. twice per day) was associated with decreased bone resorption. Bone resorption is a natural process by which old bone is used to build new bone, but when resorption happens at a higher rate than new bone is created, it leads to bone loss. Bottom line: drinking two cups of tart cherry juice per day had bone-protecting effects.
Did you know that buying some fruits in veggies with their stems/tops still on can ensure that you are getting the freshest ones? When buying cherries, make sure their stems are bright green stems, which tells you that they are fresh. Those with brown stems are no longer fresh.
My favorite way to eat cherries is just getting a big bowl of them and snacking away. How do you like to eat your cherries?