I have fond memories of my childhood summers spent at my grandparents’ home in Independence, Missouri. During those simpler and calmer days, happiness could be found sitting next to my grandmother while we pitted fresh cherries from her garden. I remember eating many of those cherries, but Grandma managed to hold on to enough of them to make a wonderful cherry pie.
Fast forward oh so many years and I found myself not being able to resist picking up a couple of bags of fresh cherries at the grocery store Saturday. I was planning my dinner menu for my weekend company when the memory of that fresh cherry pie started tickling my taste buds.
Cherries have a multitude of health benefits. These benefits include:
- Being a Superfood. “A growing body of science reveals tart cherries, enjoyed as either dried, frozen cherries or cherry juice, have among the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants, when compared to other fruits. They also contain other important nutrients such as beta carotene (19 times more than blueberries or strawberries) vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate,” said ChooseCherries.com.
- - Prevention of heart disease. Cherries include a nutritionally significant amount of flavonoid, quercetin, which has anticarcinogenic properties that help prevent heart disease, according to the California Cherry Advisory Board.
- Prevention of cancer. Cherries also have a phenolic acid, amygdalin (also known as vitamin B17 and laetrile) that have been shown to reduce tumor size and spread of cancer, as well as to alleviate the pains of cancer. “Populations such as the Hunza in Pakistan that have always incorporated amygdalin into their diets have remained cancer free, leading scientists to believe that its consumption could also be a powerful cancer prevention food,” the California Cherry Advisory Board noted.
- Pain relief. Tart cherries and cherry juice may reduce the pain from arthritis and gout. “There is anecdotal evidence and some interesting research suggesting that the anthocyanins that give tart cherries their color may prove more effective than aspirin for pain relief,” said Dr. Andrew Weil, a clinical professor of medicine and director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. “Laboratory findings at Michigan State University suggest that the equivalent of 20 tart cherries inhibited enzymes called cyclooxygenase-1 and -2, which are the targets of anti-inflammatory drugs, at doses more than 10 times lower than aspirin. Although human studies haven't been conducted, the Michigan researchers theorized that eating tart cherries daily has the potential to reduce pain related to inflammation, arthritis and gout.”
- Bone health. Sweet cherries are excellent sources of boron. When consumed with calcium and magnesium, boron has been linked to increased bone health, reported the California Cherry Advisory Board.
- Muscle recovery. According to Bicycling.com, students who consumed 12 ounces of tart cherry juice before and after strenuous exercises in a University of Vermont study suffered only a 4 percent reduction in muscle strength the next day. This compares with a 22-percent loss in subjects who were given a placebo. "Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules in tart cherries suppress and treat the micro-tears in muscles," stated Dr. Declan Connolly told Bicycling.com.
- Sleeping, memory and aging. “Cherries also contain melatonin, which has been found to help regulate the body’s natural sleep patterns, aid with jet lag, prevent memory loss and delay the aging process,” said the ChooseCherries.com.
Since having the cherries around the house, I find myself grabbing a bunch for a morning or afternoon snack. Easy, quick and so tasty! And my houseguest got reacquainted with the goodness of fresh cherries when I made a New York Times recipe for Cherry Cobbler with Almond-Buttermilk Topping. My grandma would have been so proud!
Published On: July 26, 2011