What is it?
There are hundreds of species of cherries which can be divided into two distinct sweet and sour categories.
The Montmorency cherry is a variety of sour cherry. Sour cherries tend to contain higher levels of total phenolics (compounds considered to have protective effects against cancer and cardiovascular diseases due to their antioxidant activities) and anthocyanins (antioxidants which play a key role in protecting our bodies) than sweet cherries.
What does it do?
Consumption of cherries/ cherry juice has a traditional reputation for alleviating pain in arthritis and gout. Clinical studies using polyphenol-rich cherries have suggested effectiveness in increasing antioxidant status, reducing inflammation, and in exerting pain-mediating effects whilst also reducing oxidative stress after strenuous exercise.
Consumption of Montmorency cherries provides a source of phytochemicals containing melatonin (controls our sleep-wake cycle) and its related compounds, tryptophan (an amino acid that promotes sleep) and serotonin (the precursor for melatonin). Therefore, Montmorency Cherries have beneficial effects on sleep-wake rhythms and increased sleep time.
Why choose natural sources of serotonin rather than synthetic?
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is important for the production of serotonin in the body, it also plays a key role in sleep. We cannot make tryptophan in our bodies and must obtain it from our diets, unlike serotonin which is not found in foods and is made in our bodies. Foods like Montmorency cherries help boost serotonin, our happy hormone, naturally. Serotonin can be boosted by anti-depressant drugs like Prozac. However, synthetic serotonin boosting drugs do have adverse side-affects such as; anxiety, feelings of agitation, blurred vision, dizziness, difficulties achieving orgasm, and in men difficulty maintaining an erection. Therefore, opting for natural sources of serotonin is preferable.