Delicious, satiating and nutritious. That’s what cherries are all about. They ideally come in two types, sweet and tart with the latter being used in cooking and baking while the former can be used as a snack. This superfood has gained its reputation over the years because of the numerous health benefits attributed to its high vitamin, mineral and plant compound content. In this article we break it down and tell you why you should always include cherries in your grocery shopping list.
Cherries Nutrition Facts
- Calories: 95
- Fat: 0.3g
- Protein: 1.6g
- Fiber: 3.2g
- Carbohydrate: 24g
- Sugars: 19.2g
- Calcium: 20mg
- Magnesium: 17mg
- Iron: 0.5mg
- Potassium: 333mg
- Vitamin C: 10.5mg
With that kind of nutritional profile, you can’t help but wonder what are the health benefits of cherries. Next, we explore everything you need to know about cherries, the good and the not so good.
Health Benefits Of Cherries
Have you been looking for a reason to try out cherries? Here are 7:
Cherries And Muscle Recovery
Tart cherries and their juice show more promising results compared to the sweet variety despite both being just as effective. Their concentrate has been found to speed up muscle recovery while reducing exercise-induced pain and strength loss in elite athletes (6).
Cherries And The Risk Of Cancer
You see that rich color in cherries? That comes from powerful antioxidants known as anthocyanins. They have been shown to help the body mitigate potentially cancer-causing oxidative damage. Additionally, cherries contain significant levels of vitamin C which is associated with reduced lung cancer risk among active smokers (4).
The fiber in cherries has also been shown to protect against colon cancer. So adding cherries and other fruits and vegetables in your meal is a good first step to lowering the risk of several forms of cancer (4).
Cherries And Your Memory Function
The anthocyanins and flavonoids in dark-colored cherries can be beneficial to your brain, seeing how it protects it from oxidative damage. This oxidative damage may be as a result of environmental stressors like smoking, chronic medical issues like diabetes or even sometimes just due to aging. Eating lots of vibrant fruits like cherries might help improve your memory in the long run (1).
Cherries And Your Heart Health
Increased consumption of nutrient dense fruits like cherries is one of the best – and tastiest – ways of protecting your heart. Fruit-rich diets have been shown to significantly lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases (13).
Cherries come loaded with nutrients and compounds like polyphenol antioxidants and potassium that promote heart health. Potassium is particularly essential since it helps expel excess sodium from your body, thus regulating your blood pressure (14). 1 cup of pitted, sweet cherries will give you almost 10% of the DV of this essential mineral (3).
The powerful polyphenol antioxidants like flavonols, catechins and anthocyanins in cherries can help keep your heart healthy. This is linked to their ability to reduce inflammation and protect against cellular damage. This study done among 84,158 people revealed that higher intake of polyphenols significantly reduced heart disease risk over 5 years (15).
Cherries And Your Sleep Quality
The sleep-promoting properties of cherries have been linked to its high concentration of plant compounds. Cherries also contain a substance known as melatonin that helps in regulating your sleep-wake cycle (10).
This study showed that people who drank tart cherry juice concentrate for 7 days had increased melatonin levels compared to those who took a placebo. This in turn led to increased sleep quality and duration (10).
It is, however, still unclear if eating fresh cherries would produce similar results since the studies used concentrated cherry products. More research is still needed to clarify this option.
Cherries For Arthritis And Gout
Gout is a type of arthritis resulting from a buildup of uric acid. It can lead to pain in your joints, inflammation and extreme swelling. The anti-inflammatory properties of cherries might help reduce these symptoms (7).
Various research indicates cherries can help inhibit oxidative stress and as a result decrease inflammation by suppressing inflammatory proteins. Additionally, they can help decrease uric acid levels in your body making them beneficial for people with gout (7).
This study revealed that cherry intake alongside gout medication allopurinol, led to a 75% reduction of gout attacks compared to when neither was consumed (7).
Benefits Of Cherries For Weight Loss
There’s still some uncertainty surrounding the potential weight reducing benefits of cherries. However, they can be a healthy addition to a weight loss diet. Cherries have a high fiber content which has been linked to weight loss in various studies. The satiating effects of fiber helps you stay full for longer which will ultimately prevent overeating (11).
Other properties that make them good for weight management include the low calories in cherries and a low glycemic index.
Now that we’ve looked at cherries nutrition facts and benefits it’s time we considered it’s other side – if it has one. Cherries are generally considered safe to eat. However, it’s not without a few side effects. Next we look at the not so pleasant side of cherries.
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Cherries Side Effects And Health Risks
There are not many side effects or health risks associated with cherry consumption. They are, however, a particularly high-FODMAP fruit, which is something to be aware of if you are on a low FODMAP diet. Individuals with Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be sensitive to cherries because of their fructose and sorbitol content (12).
Also, if you’re a dog person, it may be best if you keep them away from cherries. While the flesh is considered safe for them, the pits contain cyanide that can be poisonous in large quantities (2).
Finally, cherry pits and stems pose a choking hazard for both children and adults. You should therefore ensure removing the stems and pits before giving them to children.
How To Pick And Store Your Cherries
These berries are pretty popular so you can find them in most health food stores, grocery stores, co-ops or farmers markets. In fact, some farms may even allow you to pick your own cherries and pay by the pound.
You should, however, look for that feel plump and firm and have a bright or glossy appearance. This means you should avoid the ones that are mushy, soft and with a shriveled appearance. These are tell-tale signs that they are past peak ripeness.
Keep your cherries fresh by storing them in a refrigerator using a shallow container. Finally, always remember to rinse your cherries using cool water before eating them.
Fitting Cherries Into Your Diet
Cherries are a very versatile ingredient that can be applied anywhere ranging from snacks to fruit salads. You can try these creative ideas when adding them to your diet:
- Frozen yogurt sundae with a cherry on top.
- Blended frozen cherries with yogurt, banana and milk for the perfect smoothie.
- Stir fry your cherries in a chicken, pineapple, sugar snap peas and cherries combo.
- You can never go wrong with a yogurt parfait including rolled oats, agave syrup and cherries.
- Add cherries to your chicken, sour cream and lime tacos.
- A cherry compote alongside balsamic vinegar and goat cheese should do the trick.
Healthy Cherry Recipes To Try Out
Cherries are not only good as snacks. They are also a healthy and welcomed addition to meals and side dishes. Experimenting with other sweet flavors like honey and vanilla can really help bring out their taste.
Here are a few simple recipes that include cherries:
Chicken Salad With Pecans And Dried Cherries (8)
Are you looking for something sweet and crunchy? Well, you’re in luck. The recipe delivers just that thanks to the addition of the heart-healthy pecans and fiber-rich dried cherries. Here’s how you make it:
- 1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless trimmed chicken breast
- ½ teaspoon salt, divided
- ⅓ cup low-fat plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon honey mustard
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup thinly sliced celery
- ½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped
- ½ cup dried tart cherries, chopped
- 1 head Boston or butterhead lettuce, trimmed
- Start by placing the chicken in a medium skillet or a saucepan and cover with water. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.
- Cover the skillet then reduce the heat maintaining a gentle simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the pink color in the middle of the chicken goes away. Transfer it to a plate and let it cool.
- Now mix the yogurt, mayonnaise, pepper, mustard and the remaining salt in a bowl.
- Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces once it’s cool enough to handle. Throw in the chicken, pecans, celery and cherries to the bowl containing the dressing. Toss until it’s well combined.
- Split the lettuce leaves among 4 plates then top with about 1 cup of chicken salad to each.
This recipe is courtesy of eatingwell.com
Chocolate-Cherry Scones (9)
These scones are prepared with dark cherries that assures you of an intense sweet flavor paired perfectly with chocolate. Here’s how you make it:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup cold butter, cubed
- 1 cup Amarena cherries in syrup, drained and halved
- ¼ cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
For the glaze:
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons milk
- Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Now combine the flour, baking powder and soda, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor.
- Pulse 3-4 times to mix then add butter and continue pulsing 20-25 times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour it into a large bowl.
- Next fold in the chocolate chips and cherries ensuring they are sufficiently coated with the dry ingredients.
- Using a fork, mix together in a small bowl the egg, ½ cup heavy cream and 1 tablespoon cherry syrup until they are well combined. Stir into the flour mixture and mix until it’s just slightly moistened.
- Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and gather it in a circle using floured hands. Knead slightly to incorporate any remaining dry ingredients.
- Flatten the dough until it becomes a 9-inch round disc and cut it into 8 triangles.
- Use a bench scraper to transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheets, placing 4 per baking sheet. Brush the scones with 1 tablespoon heavy cream.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20-23 minutes until they turn light brown. Remove and let cool for about half an hour.
- Mix the milk and the powdered sugar together in a small bowl and transfer to a small resealable plastic bag.
- Use a pair of scissors to snip one corner off and drizzle glaze on the cooled scones.
This recipe is courtesy of allrecipes.com
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Cherry And Almond Frangipane Galette (5)
This free-form pie delivers both flavor and nutrition all in one place. Using a spelt pastry will complement the frangipane due to its nuttiness. Here’s how you make it:
- 400g cherries, pitted and halved
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons morello cherry conserve
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Clotted cream, to serve (optional)
For the pastry:
- 200g white spelt flour
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 120g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
For the frangipane:
- 100g whole, skin-on almonds, toasted
- 15g unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon spelt flour, plus extra for dusting
- ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
- 50g golden caster sugar
- 1 egg
For the pastry:
- Start by making the pastry by sifting the flour into a bowl and stirring in the sugar and a pinch of salt.
- Add the butter then rub it in using your fingertips until it becomes a coarse crumb consistency.
- Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of ice-cold water and bring the mixture using your hands and knead it against the bowl’s side. Add a little more water if it’s still crumbling until it forms a pliable pastry dough.
- Wrap the dough in a baking parchment and chill for about 30 minutes as you macerate the cherries in the sugar and lemon juice in a bowl.
For the frangipane:
- Now to make the frangipane, blitz the almonds in a food processor until they are finely chopped.
- Add the butter, flour, sugar and vanilla extract and blitz until they’re well combined. Add the egg until a paste is formed.
For the galatte:
- Preheat your oven to 160 degrees C.
- Roll out the pastry in a circle of about 30cm wide with a pound coin’s thickness on a lightly floured surface.
- Slide it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment then spread over the conserve. Leave a 4cm border around the edges.
- Cover it using the frangipane and press half the cherries into it and fold over the pastry’s edges so that it encases the edges of the cherries. Press down the creases until they hold together.
- Brush it using the beaten egg and scatter some granulated sugar over the pastry and cherries.
- Put it in a freezer for 10 minutes.
- Bake the galette for about 45 minutes, remove from the over and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Pour over the remaining fresh cherries and spoon over any juice you prefer. Serve with clotted cream if desired.
This recipe is courtesy of bbcgoodfood.com
Cherries are a delicious snack with lots of potential health benefits. They are a good source of antioxidants, fiber and potassium that are good for your heart, may reduce inflammation and improve sleep quality. The bonus? There are lots of ways to add this superfood to your diet, all you need is just a bit of creativity.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 4 Types of Foods to Support Memory (2021, eatright.org)
- Can Dogs Have Cherries? (2021, akl.com)
- Cherries, raw (2020, usda.gov)
- Cherries & Cancer, Do Cherries Prevent Cancer? (2021, aicr.org)
- Cherry & almond frangipane galette (n.d., bbcgoodfood.com)
- Cherry Antioxidants: From Farm to Table (2010, nih.gov)
- Cherry Consumption and the Risk of Recurrent Gout Attacks (2013, nih.gov)
- Chicken Salad with Pecans & Dried Cherries (2013, eatingwell.com)
- Chocolate-Cherry Scones (n.d., allrecipes.com)
- Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality (2012, pubmed.gov)
- Fiber Intake Predicts Weight Loss and Dietary Adherence in Adults Consuming Calorie-Restricted Diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) Study (2019, oup.com)
- FODMAP food list (2019, monashfodmap.com)
- Fruits for Prevention and Treatment of cardiovascular Diseases (2017, nih.gov)
- Potassium in hypertension and cardiovascular disease (2013, pubmed.gov)
- Prospective Association between Total and Specific Dietary Polyphenol Intakes and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in the Nutrient-Sante French Cohort (2018, nih.gov)