When it comes to pleasure, cherries are winners for packing taste and powerful nutrients into a tiny package. Doesn’t it seem like Nature makes extra efforts to ensure that her many Earthly species are delivered nourishment beyond what many of us ever imagined? Here are the top reasons why cherries should top your summertime food charts. Cherries are strong contenders in the “super food” category.
- Heart health: Bing cherries are associated with reduced markers for heart disease in both women and men. They also may protect your skin from ultra-violet rays and reduce artherosclerosis.
- Blood sugar: Tart cherries contain anthocyanins that can increase insulin production. Cyanidins, also found in cherries, have been linked to reduced weight and blood glucose.
- Sleep: Montmorency cherries are abundant in melatonin, which may help with sleep.
- Arthritis & Gout: Black and Bing cherries contain cyanidin, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. This translates into protection from gout, arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions.
- Headaches: Research at Michigan State University revealed that about 20 cherries per day may help ward off headaches.
- Post-weight training: Tart cherry juice drunk workout can reduce muscle pain and loss of strength.
- Cancer: Numerous studies have helped identify compounds that prevent the formation of carcinogenic substances. Most notably, tart cherries have been identified as helpful in preventing colon cancer.
Tart cherries are easier to consume when they accompany a dish, such as a green salad or whole grains. Avoid drinking highly sweetened cherry juice when possible because you’re trading something unhealthy (added sugars) for something healthy (cherries). Instead, try adding them to any of these dishes:
- My green salad ideas (use tart cherries in place of raspberries, pomegranate, or lemon)
- Herbed Quinoa Salad (add tart cherries)
- Blend them into a red vinaigrette
- Use tart cherries in place of cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, pomegranate, etc.
Cherries are listed as a “dirty dozen” food (I wrote about that term here), which means they are likely to contain more petrochemicals. These chemicals are used in fertilizing and in pest control. Therefore, I recommend you purchase organic cherries whenever possible. Wash them well immediately before eating.
Cherries at your Farmer’s Market will be fresher. Not only that, but you will be supporting your local farmer and economy.
What to do when organic isn’t available: I’ve definitely pulled over on road trips to buy a big bag of fresh cherries from roadside stands. Sometimes, you can strike up a conversation with the growers about their growing practices, and ask them about their chemical usage. At the end of the day, I believe it’s better to eat fresh produce than to skip it entirely because it’s not organic.
Please share your cherry-riffic thoughts in the comments section below! I’d love to know how you incorporate cherries into your diet. Yum!
Ten ways to enjoy cherries (includes recipes)
More on Cherry Varieties from Leslie Beck, RD
Edmonds, Washington, USA
Phone number: 206.486.5108