Here’s why cherries might be the ultimate summer fruit

From anti-aging to elevating recipes, these little red gems are a health powerhouse

Ah, cherries — those rich-in-color fruits that join us for only a fleeting moment each year, roughly May to July. For cherry lovers, resisting the urge to devour them by the handful is an exercise of sheer willpower. But you don’t have to hold back. Cherries are a treat for your taste buds and a powerhouse of health benefits.

One of the most notable benefits of cherries is their high concentration of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, according to Health. Antioxidants help combat inflammation in the body, reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Additionally, cherries are an excellent source of vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune system and promotes collagen production for radiant skin.

“The major source of antioxidants (in cherries) is from anthocyanins, but cherries also contain vitamins A, C, E, and potassium. Inflammation can cause degradation of elastin and collagen fibers, aging skin over time. An anti-inflammatory diet will preserve youthful skin and shield it from environmental stressors, such as pollution,” Dr. Rachel Nazarian, board-certified dermatologist, told Well and Good.

Cherries are also known for their potential to improve sleep quality, thanks to their natural melatonin content, Health reported. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, and studies have shown consuming cherries or cherry juice before bedtime may help you achieve a more restful night’s sleep.

So, how can you make the most of this summertime superfruit? Fresh is best, according to Health, so look for firm, plump cherries during their peak season. Remove the pits and add them to yogurt or on top of peanut butter toast for a delicious breakfast, or blend them into a smoothie or add splashes of its juice to sparkling water or your favorite cocktail.

Cherry season is short, but don’t worry — you can freeze them for up to a year. No matter the season, there’s always a way to enjoy the benefits of cherries.