Natural Food Spotlight: Cherries
Posted on Wednesday, July 10th, 2013 at 4:46 pm
Looking for a quick, delicious, and nutritious snack? Choose the easily accessible superfood, cherries! Cherries should have bright and shiny skin with a green stalk firmly attached to the top. Cherries taste the best during the months of May until August, so eat up during the summer! It is said that cherries were used for medicinal purposes in the 16th and 17th centuries. This must mean they are good for us, right?
Cherries grown for consumption are loaded with health benefits. Cherries rank among the top 20 foods with the highest concentration of antioxidants. In fact, a standard one-cup serving of cherries is an instant candidate for several health and wellness platforms. Cherries contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins, which may reduce a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The antioxidants can also recover brain health and memory, and foster anti-aging. Sour cherries contain a large amount of beta carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A that helps maintain eyesight and healthy skin. Cherries are also naturally low in fat and calories and free of both cholesterol and sodium. They are great sources of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and potassium.
Surprisingly, tart cherry juice acts as a natural pain reliever. Tart cherries actually contain compounds that act somewhat similar to aspirin. The anthocyanin antioxidants in cherries inhibit enzymes associated with inflammation, and may help soothe soreness linked to muscle and joint pain. The juice is perfect for those health conscious individuals looking for an all-natural pain reliever!
Although cherries are small, they are bursting with flavor! As if cherries aren’t delicious enough served alone, they are a healthy addition to many desserts and savory dishes. Start your day by adding a cup of pitted and sliced cherries to morning oatmeal or cereal. On a special Sunday make sure to offer a cherry topping for waffles or pancakes. Enjoy a mid-morning smoothie with frozen cherries, blueberries, strawberries, and yogurt making a superfood concoction. Enjoy a handful of chilled cherries along with lunch. They are the perfect out-of-hand snack to satisfy a sweet craving. When looking for a perfect treat, make sure to explore cherry desserts like cherry almond crumble, cherry fruit cake, cherry tarts, and chocolate covered cherries.
When cherries aren’t as readily available or tasting the best, don’t completely cut them out of your diet. Dried cherries ensure their availability 12 months of the year. They are just as tasty and very convenient! Dried cherries are great in trail mix, a snack straight out of the bag, or stirred into morning cereals. Nutrient levels of the dried fruit are about as high as when they are fresh.