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Cherries are tasty and delicious but also a super food – researchers have found that cherries may help you sleep better, avoid jet lag, and possibly lessen the symptoms of arthritis and gout. The secret to their success? Melatonin, a hormone produced in the brain’s pineal gland that has been credited with slowing the aging process, and fighting insomnia and jet lag.

For many the first cherries are a sign of spring and renewal. First out of the gate are dark red Bing cherries, with yellow-red lava lamp–colored Rainers on their heels. Then come Brooks, a hybrid of the tried-and-true WWII-era Burlat and the groovy Rainier. Sequoias are a new up and comer. Black Tartarians are the darkest, and Gold cherries are the lightest, having no red pigment at all. There’s even a variety of cherry called the Bada Bing (I kid you not). But once you start seeing Sweethearts, you’re in the home stretch of the season.

Red cherries are in the super fruit category—they are packed with antioxidants—and tart cherries have 19 times more beta carotene than blueberries or strawberries (and those guys ain’t too shabby). Cherry juice is a well-respected supplement for athletes and people suffering from arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory component anthocyanin.

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