Its official the 2013 tart cherry harvest is over and many of the cherry orchards in Northern Michigan and around the Traverse Bay region are now offering U-pick. This means if you’re visiting Northern Michigan within the next week or so, you’ll be able to grab a bucket and stroll through the countless rows of cherry trees filling it with mouthwatering cherries. One thing you’ll notice, is you’ll probably also be snacking on those tiny red orbs as you enjoy a stress-free day in the orchard, too. Once you fill your bucket, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor for the next several days. Unfortunately, once the fresh cherries are gone you won’t be able to enjoy fresh Montmorency tart cherries until next harvest. The reason is the tart cherry is extremely delicate to ship, thus making them difficult to ship. The other options for year-round cherry enjoyment is drinking the cherry juice, taking the tart cherry capsules or adding the dried cherries to your daily diet. However, no matter your cherry product of choice, this tiny Michigan-grown super fruit is packed full of health benefits. So let’s take a closer look at the top five reasons to eat for cherries. The Michigan-grown Montmorency cherries are packed with both great taste and health benefits. As more and more research is published on the health benefits, the tart cherry is fast becoming the first choice for a number of health benefits including maintaining health joint function* and getting a better night’s sleep. Here are the top five reasons to eat more cherries: #1: Soothing Achy Joints Research has shown that cherries help to maintain healthy joint function due to the presence of several powerful compounds. This includes anthocyanins. These are a powerful compounds that help maintain healthy joint function. #2: Get a Better Night’s Sleep Cherries are an excellent source of naturally occurring melatonin. Melatonin is naturally produced in the brain and helps to regulate the body’s rhythmic patterns. This means adding cherries, drinking cherry juice or taking tart cherry capsules may help with maintaining healthy sleep patterns. #3: Ranking on the Glycemic Index Tart cherries rank a 54 on the Glycemic index. This moderate ranking indicates the sugar content in this fruit doesn’t increase your body’s sugar as much when compared to eating a high-sugar donut. So those watching their sugar intake are usually on the lookout for low glycemic foods and cherries rank at a 54. #4: Packed full of Powerful Antioxidants Nutritionists suggest individuals should consume 3000 – 5000 ORAC units per day to fight the damaging effects of free radicals. Fortunately, drinking just one glass of cherry juice provides over 1200 ORAC units. #5: Cherries are just Yummy That’s right, cherries are just a tasty food. I don’t know about you, but almost any type of recipe that contains cherries in it is usually a very good recipe.