What to look for when buying fresh cherries
Cherries should be deep maroon or mahogany red to almost black. The exception is Rainier cherries which have a golden skin with a blush of red color. The exterior should appear bright, glossy and plump with stems intact. Don’t purchase cherries that appear to be soft, shriveled, have mold growth, or brown discoloration.
Nutritional Information: Cherries contain powerful antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and B-6, dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, protein, iron, and calcium.
Natural Health Benefits of Cherries
- Post-exercise muscle pain relief - Cherry juice is favored by many exercise and sports enthusiasts as a pain relieving, natural sports drink. In a study, runners who drank 10.5 ounces of 100% Montmorency cherry juice twice a day for seven days prior to the run and on the day of the long-distance relay reported less muscle pain than athletes drinking another fruit beverage. The cherry’s ability to relieve pain is attributed to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Reduces arthritic pain and inflammation - Cherries contain the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is not only what gives cherries its red color, but has anti-inflammatory power. When inflammation is reduced, joint pain and muscle aches diminish. Besides easing muscle pain associated with exercise, cherry juice also relieves inflammation and discomfort associated with fibromyalgia and arthritis. Drinking cherry juice is a healthier alternative than taking NSAIDs and other over the counter pain medications.
- Lowers risk of heart disease, cancer and more - Cherries are rich in health boosting antioxidants. Inflammation isn’t restricted to the joints and muscles. “Chronic inflammation is a whole-body condition that can affect health, especially when it comes to the heart,” stated University of Michigan researcher, Mitch Seymour, Ph.D., in a Newsmax health report. In one of their studies, overweight adults drank eight ounces of tart cherry juice every day for four consecutive weeks. Risk factors and known markers for inflammation were significantly reduced as well as triglycerides. Drinking tart cherry juice is reported to lower risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and gout. The potassium in cherries helps normalize blood pressure and heart rate.
- Boost brain health and combat dementia - Antioxidants in cherries also boost brain health and help reduce the progression of dementia. By reducing inflammation in the body and the likelihood of disease and Alzheimer’s, cherries enhance brain function and health.
- Natural sleep aide - Tart cherry juice contains melatonin, a hormone which assists the body in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Researchers at Louisiana State University reported that when participants in their study drank tart cherry juice daily for two weeks, once in the morning and again at night, their quality of sleep improved. Each night study participants drinking cherry juice slept an average of 84 minutes longer than they did when not consuming cherry juice. This is especially helpful for senior adults with insomnia, as consuming cherry juice does not increase the likelihood of falls and subsequent injuries which can occur when taking over-the-counter sleep aide medications.
Eating cherries and drinking 100% cherry juice is a delicious way to reduce inflammation in your body. Drink a small glass of cherry juice or eat a handful of fresh cherries daily.
Mix chopped cherries into pancake batter, crepes or fruit salad. Fresh or frozen cherries can be tossed into fruit smoothies, nutritious blender ice cream, sauces, and limeade.
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and the author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success. Check out Lowell and Deborah's super sturdy and handsome DIY Gardening Potting Bench Plans.