Is there anything more summery than a plate of ripe cherries? Sweet, appetizing, 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 two types of cherries: sweet cherries and tart cherries. Tart cherries are often used in cooking and baking, while sweet cherries are store-bought fresh cherries for snacking.
Read on to learn more about this juicy summer staple.
Cherries nutritional information
A cup of fresh cherries contains
Protein: 1.6 grams (g)
Fiber: 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 attacks than those who avoided the fruit. Cherries have been found to lower blood levels of uric acid, which is a waste byproduct of your metabolism linked to gout and 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 increase and reported more sleep and better sleep quality compared to a placebo group. A more recent randomized controlled trial, published in March 2018 in the American Journal of Therapeutics, found that adults over 50 with insomnia who drank 8 ounces of tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks slept an additional 84 minutes in comparison with the placebo group. As this study was also small (it included only eight people), more research is needed.
Risk of illness
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 disease risk). They decrease muscle soreness after a hard workout and help lower blood pressure.
Can Cherries Help You Lose Weight?
It is not known if chewing cherries directly cause 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 a study in the October 2019 Journal of Nutrition. Fiber has a satiating effect, helping you feel full for longer and avoid 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, they are a low glycemic index fruit to help regulate blood sugar, [et] tastes like caramel
How to choose and store them
If you buy fresh cherries, look for ones that are firm and plump and look shiny. Avoid those that are soft, mushy, or appear shrunken, as this indicates that they are likely past their peak ripeness. Keep cherries fresh by storing them in the refrigerator, ideally in a shallow container so the cherries on top don’t crush the ones on the bottom. Rinse your cherries under cold 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. If you enjoy cherries regularly, consider purchasing a cherry pitter. This tool will make cooking, baking, and snacking with cherries more convenient.
By the way, accidentally ingesting a cherry pit is unlikely to be dangerous, but pits can pose a serious choking hazard, especially to children.
You can combine cherries with walnuts for a satiating combination of fiber, protein, and fat. Also, the vitamin C in cherries will help your body better absorb the iron in the nuts.
If cherries are not in season, you can still make the most of them by buying them frozen. Pour some into a small bowl and eat like you would frozen berries. You can also cook frozen cherries to make a sauce with no added sugar to top ice cream, yogurt, and pancakes.
Cherries Side Effects and Health Risks
In general, there are not many side effects or health risks associated with eating cherries. But it’s important to see a doctor or dietitian if you think certain foods are causing GI pain or 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 dogs can eat the meat, the bones contain cyanide and can be poisonous if ingested in large amounts. Cherry pits can also lodge in the dog’s digestive tract and cause intestinal blockages.
Also, as noted above, 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 purchasing a cherry pitter if you eat cherries regularly.
Grow your cherries
You will need some space if you want to grow your cherries. Cherries grow on trees and you will need to plant two or three to allow for 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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