7 Healthy Reasons to Love Cherries - and 7 Tasty Ways to Enjoy Them
By Brad Ter Haar More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the A Longer Life Blog Series
As spring and summer approach, one of the tastiest, sweetest “Super Fruits” begins to bloom. I’m referring, of course, to the cherry, a uniquely flavored fruit. Cherries have a very short growing season from the end of spring and into summer, but luckily, frozen cherries offer amazing health benefits year round and the fresh are well worth the wait they demand!
7 Health Benefits the Cherry Provides
- Antioxidants: The cherry is one of the few sources of food containing melatonin, which improves the body’s sleep cycles, and regulates heart rhythms. Cherries are full of anthocyanins, an antioxidant which helps reduce heart disease, as well as reducing pain and inflammation caused by gout and arthritis. It should be noted that tart cherries contain more anthocyanins than do sweet cherries.
- Vitamins: An excellent source of Vitamin A, one serving of cherries contains nearly 19 times more Vitamin A than blueberries and strawberries. Cherries are also rich in vitamins C and E.
- Reduced Risk of Diabetes: Researchers have discovered that the nutrients found in cherries may help reduce risk factors linked to type-two diabetes.
- Combating Joint Pain: A growing body of research demonstrates that cherries have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, and it is suggested that eating cherries following a workout can reduce soreness of the joints and muscles.
- Cholesterol Benefits: Studies have found that cherries may help reduce LDL (the “bad cholesterol), while increasing HDL (the “good cholesterol).
- Sleep Better: One study examined people who drank cherry juice (tart) daily, and the results were astounding – for those with insomnia, its severity was reduced, and for all the adults included in the study, there was a 5 to 6% increase in sleep efficiency.
- Prevent Cancer: Queritrin and ellagic acid, two powerful anticancer agents, are found in cherries. When these compounds enter the body they stop the growth of cancerous cells by depriving them the proteins needed to expand.
Fitting Cherries Into Your Diet
How can you get more cherries in your diet?
Cherries are great fresh, but you can also find dried cherries and cherry juice at your grocery store or local market.
Here are some ideas for using them at home:
- Add some red to your breakfast: Add dried or fresh cherries to your oatmeal, cereal, waffles, or pancakes. If you enjoy being in the kitchen, use cherries and make some homemade jam. You can simply use cherries by themselves, or create a jam that combines cherries with strawberries, blueberries, or any other berries you have on hand.
- Juice on the go: Stock your fridge with 100% cherry juice (if it’s too strong, just dilute it a bit with water), and while you're drinking it, consider this: an 8 ounce glass of cherry juice is equivalent to nearly 100 cherries!
- Make Some Muffins: The next time you do some baking, add some dried cherries to your favorite muffin recipe.
- Create a colorful parfait: Although cherry season only lasts a matter of months, you can still enjoy cherries year-round. Stock your freezer with frozen cherries, and use them with sugar-free granola and lowfat yogurt to layer a delicious parfait.
Show your body some love and treat yourself to some cherries!
Sour Cherry Bread Pudding
"Now I kind of adore bread pudding, for it's crusty, caramelized edges, and the smooth, custardy middle. Studded with fruit and not-too-sweet, it's super comfort food, and super easy on the bank balance. " Recipe HERE!
"Cherry ice is my favorite summer flavor but I was really amazed at how much better cherry ice tastes when using real cherries and not the artificial cherry flavor we are all used to. The deep red color is all natural, no color added. Although pitting the cherries is a bit time consuming, it's well worth the end results." Recipe HERE!
Sweet Cherry Salsa
"The cherries are obviously very sweet, and just slightly tangy. Then, the jalapenos add just a bit of heat, and the apples and cilantro add this freshness that kind of lingers in the background. I’m really not kidding when I say that you won’t be able to stop dipping." Recipe HERE!
Sour Cherry Lemonade
"Cherries get boiled down into a sweet syrup that's then stirred into the tart lemonade." Recipe HERE!
DIY Oven-Dried Cherries
"By the time they were done, the cherries had shrunk to the size of raisins and turned deep purple. We left them a tad chewy, but they seemed dehydrated enough that they should keep for a few months in an air tight container." Recipe HERE!
Sweet and Sour Cherry Jam
"When making jam, I sometimes err on the less is more side of the sugar bowl. Sour cherries are super low in pectin so getting it to "set" can be a bit of a challenge, especially when it is sugar deficient!. I was happy to stumble across David Lebovitz's no recipe cherry jam! That is just my style as I am a girl who often wings it in the kitchen. I am all about a no recipe recipe. This one was super easy AND successful! Now I have a little bit summer set aside for that toast on snowy days or maybe I will just eat all six jars before the first leaf falls." Recipe HERE!
Balsamic Cherry Pie with Black Pepper Crust
"To complement the sweet cherries and tangy vinegar, I incorporated some black pepper into the crust of the pie for a spicy kick ( a flavor combination I fell in love with last summer in this jam). The result was a pie full to the brim with flavor, sweet, tangy, fresh, buttery, spicy, it has it all. It was delicious on its own, but the other day I served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on it and that kind of blew my mind." Recipe HERE!
Ingredients Inc. Top 10 Health Benefits of Cherries: A True Superfruit