Cherries are attractive, fresh, delicious, and plentiful members of rose (Rosaceae) family. Cherries are one of the healthiest and nutritious fruits. They hold the rank for being the most health-protective food as well. Twenty-one cherries that make-up about one cup, not only fulfill 15% of the daily requirement of vitamin C but also contain less than 100 calories.
Cherries, the cute little red fruits, when baked into a cherry pie, are sweet and just delightful. The trees of cherry get mature after seven years, and the production of fruits after plantation takes three to four years. Cherries are packed with antioxidants and are low-calories fruit. Due to fantastic health benefits, delicious flavor, and versatility, the cherries can be the ideal snacks.
Cherries derive from the northern parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe. To cultivate them, you need to expose the seeds to low temperatures for germination. So, the cherries cannot be grown in tropical regions. The best season to cultivate cherries ranges from May to August. However, the season depends upon the location as well.
The two most recognizable varieties of cherries are sour (tart or pie) cherry and sweet (wild) cherry. Sour cherries are generally processed before utilization, whereas wild cherries can be consumed in a raw form. Wild cherries include Royal Ann, Rainier, and Bing. You can also easily find dried cherries from your local supermarket.
Since the cherries have a pleasing fragrance, they are used in perfume as well as in cosmetic industries. Few of the varieties of cherry trees are grown for ornamental purposes as well. Cherries are the relative of peaches, apricot, and plums. Furthermore, they have a hard center seed, which is surrounded by its outer flesh – the reason why they are also considered a drupe or stone fruit.
Interesting Facts about Cherries
- Cherry blossoms are an unofficial flower in Japan. Cherries represents modesty, innocence, beauty, spring, courtesy, and simplicity.
- In Japan, the trees of cherry blossoms are known as Sakura.
- The cherry tree has an average lifecycle of about 20 years, but some of them have achieved the age of two to three hundreds of years as well.
- Usuzumi Sakura, Jindai Sakura, and MilharuTakizakura are the oldest cherry trees that lived for 1000-2000 years.
- The biggest cherry pie weighed about 38,683 pounds (18,000 kg), and Canada holds this record.
- The world’s heaviest cherry weighed around 0.76 oz. (21.69 grams). Gerardo Maggipinto from Italy grew this cherry.
- Serving ice cream on a cherry pie was once prohibited in Kansas.
- National Cherry Pie Day is celebrated on 22nd February and National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day on 3rd
- In the 1600s, the cherries were brought to North America by English colonists.
- The United States has more than 1,000 cherry varieties, but ten or fewer are manufactured commercially.
Health Benefits of Cherries
Cherries are more than just delicious in pies. They are packed with nutrients and are very beneficial for our health. Cherries are versatile fruit in a way that they offer great flavor and several health benefits. They contain all the essential minerals like copper and potassium, polyphenols, carotenoids, melatonin, as well as vitamins (vitamin C and E).
The nutrients and vitamins present in this sweet fruit have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers that reduce several plasma serum levels for inflammation and oxidative stress. Few of the other health benefits of cherries are:
- Anti-inflammatory Properties
According to a 2018 analysis of 29 different studies on the health benefits of cherries, the powerful anti-inflammatory properties of tart and sweet cherries are due to the high concentration of vitamin C and polyphenols. Polyphenols are believed to protect against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic syndrome.
Consumption of tart cherry is also linked to lowered blood pressure. Cherries are loaded with anthocyanins, which give them a deep red color and help to protect against obesity, cancer, and heart disease.
- Boosts Exercise Recovery
It is proven from various studies that, due to the presence of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in cherries, they can help in relieving exercise-induced muscle damage, inflammation, and pain. Tart cherry juice and concentrate boosts muscle recovery, prevents strength loss in athletes, and reduce exercise-induced muscle pain.
Research on 20 active women demonstrated that those who consumed 60 two ounces of tart cherry juice twice for eight days had less muscle damage and irritation. Moreover, they regained quicker as compared to the placebo group, after finishing repeated sprint exercises.
- Fights Against Free Radicals
Antioxidants present in cherries help the body fight free radicals. The presence of free radicals can cause inflammation and can damage the cells. Antioxidants aid a healthy immune response and inflammation. In addition to that, polyphenols in cherries protect the body from several diseases.
Cherries also contain monoterpenes that not only give them their smell but also stop the multiplication of cancer cells.
- Fights and Prevents Diabetes
As compared to many other fruits, cherries have a lower glycemic index. They are very beneficial for diabetic patients because they regulate insulin and blood sugar levels. Moreover, cherries contain anthocyanins that notably lowers the risk of diabetes.
Multiple studies have found a strong connection between this powerful antioxidant and its capacity to repress key enzymes significant to type 2 diabetes. Thus, it helps reduce associated inflammation and hypertension as well as controls glucose absorption.
- Beneficial For Heart Health
Increasing the consumption of cherries is a toothsome way to cushion your heart. It has been proven from studies that the fruit-rich diet is linked with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases. Cherries contain nutrients and compounds like polyphenol, antioxidants, and potassium that are known to boost heart health.
Potassium present in the cherries helps in removing excess sodium out of your body, balancing your blood pressure, and maintaining a regular heartbeat.
How to Choose Cherries
Always sample sweet cherries before buying them from local-fresh markets. You just need to taste their sweetness. The tart cherries are a little softer, smaller, and acidic. Sweet, peachy-colored Rainier, Bing, and deep-crimson are the most abundant available types.
If sour cherries are available in your area, go for them. However, while using tart cherries, you will need to balance its tang taste with some sweetness. Choose the cherries that are firm, large, plump, and glossy. Avoid injured, misshapen, or cracked fruits. And remember that cherries with stems attached last longer.
How to Store and Use Cherries
To store cherries, put whole and unwashed cherries in a bag of plastic and place them in the refrigerator. Wash the cherries before serving and try to consume them as soon as possible since they get soft and deteriorate fast.
Before using cherries, don’t forget to remove their pits and stems. You can easily do this with the help of a cherry pitter. Always be careful before eating cherries since their juice can stain countertops and fabrics. Both the varieties of cherries are sweet and tasty on their own, but you can still add them in pies, salads, preserves, and your favorite ice cream. You can also use cherries in savory foods like lamb, chicken, and pork to add more flavors.
Cherries are a sweet little treat that has a delightful taste and several health benefits due to the presence of essential minerals and vitamins. Other than the mentioned benefits in this article, cherries are good for arthritis and gout as well. In addition to that, they improve your sleep quality, brainpower, and moods.