Is there anything more summery than a bowl of ripe cherries? Sweet, snackable and nutritious, this superfood deserves a place in your diet. Cherries are a good source of healthy compounds like fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and polyphenols. There are basically two types of cherries: sweet cherries and tart cherries. Tart cherries are often used in cooking and baking, while sweet cherries are those bought fresh from the store to snack on.
Read on to learn more about this juicy summer staple.
Nutrition Facts of Cherries
A cup of fresh cherries contains
Protein: 1.6 grams (g)
Fibre: 3.2 g (making it a good source)
Calcium: 20 milligrams (mg)
Vitamin C: 10.5 mg (making it a good source)
Research on cherries details some impressive health benefits.
A systematic review of six studies, published in December 2019 in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, concluded that participants who ate cherries had fewer gout flare-ups than those who avoided the fruit. Cherries have been found to reduce blood uric acid levels, which is a waste byproduct of your metabolism linked to gout as well as kidney stones. They can also help decrease inflammation to potentially lessen future attacks. The researchers note that more high-quality studies are needed.
Tart cherries are a source of melatonin, a hormone the body releases to prepare for sleep. A randomized controlled trial, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, involving 20 adults, found that people who consumed tart cherry juice concentrate for a week saw their melatonin levels rise, and reported sleep more and have a better quality of sleep compared to a placebo group. A more recent randomized controlled trial, published in March 2018 in the American Journal of Therapeutics, right up arrow found that adults over 50 with insomnia who drank 8 ounces of tart cherry juice twice daily for two weeks slept an additional 84 minutes compared to the placebo group. As this study was also small (it involved only eight people), more research is needed.
A review of 29 human studies, published in March 2018 in Nutrients, found that the overall evidence is “reasonably strong” to suggest that cherries help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation (two factors that increase the risk of disease), reduce muscle soreness after hard training and help reduce blood pressure.
Can cherries help you lose weight?
It’s not known if chewing on cherries directly causes weight loss, but they can be incorporated into a weight loss diet. Cherries are a good source of fiber, and high-fiber diets have been linked to weight loss, according to an October 2019 Journal of Nutrition study. Fiber has a satiating effect, which helps you feel full longer and prevent overeating.
Additional characteristics make fresh cherries favorable for weight loss. Cherries are a wonderful food to include in your diet if you are trying to lose weight, as they are quite low in calories and sugar, are a low glycemic fruit to help regulate blood sugar, [et] taste like candy.
How to choose and store them
If you buy fresh cherries, look for those that are firm and plump and look shiny or glossy. Avoid those that are soft, mushy, or appear shrunken, as this indicates that they are likely past their peak maturity. Keep cherries fresh by storing them in the fridge, ideally in a shallow container so the cherries on top don’t crush the ones below. Rinse your cherries with cool water just before eating them.
How to eat cherries
The easiest way to enjoy sweet cherries is to eat them as a snack, fresh from the fridge, taking care to remove the pits and stems before swallowing them. If you regularly enjoy cherries, consider buying a cherry pitter. This tool will make cooking, baking and snacking with cherries more convenient.
By the way, accidental ingestion of a cherry stone is unlikely to be dangerous, but the stones can pose a serious choking hazard, especially to children. top right arrow
You can combine cherries with nuts for a satiating combination of fiber, protein, and fat. Additionally, the vitamin C in cherries will help your body better absorb the iron in the nuts.
If the cherries aren’t in season, you can still take advantage of them by buying them frozen. Pour some into a small bowl and eat them as you would frozen berries. You can also cook frozen cherries to make a sauce with no added sugar to top ice cream, yogurt, pancakes.
Cherries Side Effects and Health Risks
In general, there aren’t many side effects or health risks associated with consuming cherries. But it’s important to consult a doctor or dietitian if you think certain foods are causing you pain or any gastrointestinal discomfort.
Cherries are high FODMAP fruits, and some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be sensitive to cherries because they contain sugars called fructose and sorbitol.
Cherries can also pose a health risk to dogs. Although the flesh is safe to eat by dogs, the pits contain cyanide and can be poisonous if ingested in large quantities. Cherry pits can also lodge in the dog’s digestive tract and cause bowel obstructions.
Additionally, as noted previously, cherry stems and pits can pose a choking hazard to both adults and children. Remove stems and pits before giving cherries to children, and consider buying a cherry pitter if you consume them regularly.
Grow your own cherries
You will need some space if you want to grow your own cherries. Cherries grow on trees, and you will need to plant two or three to allow pollination. These trees should be planted in late fall or early spring, and after the fourth year they will begin to bear fruit.
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