We're just a couple of weeks away from Labor Day -- which means that we're almost at the "unofficial" end of summer.
And soon enough, those peaches, plums, and other delicious summer fruits will disappear from your local farmers market.
But there's one stone fruit in particular you don't want to miss before summer's close.
Cherries are not only delicious – but according to the latest research, they may actually improve your overall health.
A new study shows that cherries can change the composition of your gut flora for the better... and as I've shared with you before, that’s where good health begins AND ends!
In the study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers applied the juice of either sweet black cherries or tart Montmorency cherries to bacteria from a human stool sample in the lab, and BOTH varieties of cherry juice significantly INCREASED the numbers of friendly bacteria in the sample.
Gotta hand it to any scientist who’s dedicated enough to deal with poop in a petri dish!
More specifically, a strain called Bacteroides grew like gangbusters -- and previous studies have shown that these good bugs can do everything from reduce body fat to prevent insulin resistance .
Now, that was in a lab, which is all well and good. But what about in vivo?
Well, when the researchers assigned a small group of healthy people to drink tart cherry juice every day for five days, something similar happened.
Those who began the study with low levels of Bacteroides and another friendly strain, called Bifidobacterium, boosted their levels of these two good belly bugs after drinking the cherry juice.
The theory is that plant compounds in cherries (called polyphenols) can supply the good bacteria with the energy they need to grow and thrive.
And when your beneficial critters flourish, they can crowd out the bad bugs, leaving you with a favorable balance of bacteria in your gut that can smooth out your digestion... beef up your immunity... and even tamp down inflammation throughout your body.
Now, all fresh cherries contain polyphenols -- but you'd have to eat an awful lot of them to get the same amount of the compounds as you'll find in cherry juice, which is more concentrated.
Previous studies have shown that cherry juice can beat back gout ... bring down your blood pressure ... and even improve dementia .
What's more, cherry juice is also loaded with melatonin, which can ease insomnia .
So, snatch up those fresh cherries while summer's still here -- but the cherry on top is that the juice is available in many grocery stores year-round.
Just look for the unsweetened kind that isn't loaded with added sugars.
If the juice is a little TOO tart for your taste, you can find tart cherry supplements at your local health-food store.