Enjoy Cherries With Plenty of Health Benefits
The National Cherry Festival wraps up Saturday, July 9 in Traverse City. I love cherries, and there’s no better way to enjoy them and celebrate their health benefits than in northern Michigan. Whether you choose sweet or tart, they are a fruity dessert from nature that can be consumed in a variety of ways. Some of my favorite family childhood memories are from picking cherries Up North in Traverse City. Yum!
Cherries, with their deep red color, offer a variety of different nutrients: vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate. To the surprise of many, cherries also have 19 times the amount of beta-carotene (vitamin A) than blueberries and strawberries. With all these vitamins and minerals, plus antioxidants such as anthocyanins, cyanidin and melatonin, you can see how these small, round fruit are a healthy powerhouse.
Here are some of the specific health benefits of the wonderful sweet and tart cherry:
- Naturally powerful as an anti-inflammatory agent, which aids many different conditions, like arthritis.
- Lowers the risk factors of heart disease, from decreasing inflammation, body fat and cholesterol levels.
- Tart cherries, specifically, help reduce arthritis and inflammation, while sweet cherries, in particular, fight cancerous cells.
- The anthocyanin found in cherries is known to improve memory.
- Cherries aid in keeping the eyes and retina healthy.
- The melatonin found in cherries helps regulate sleep cycles, allowing for more peaceful sleep.
Now that you know the health benefits of cherries, don’t forget to add them to your daily diet, especially since they are now in season throughout the summer. When buying cherries look for firm, plump and shiny. Be sure there are no soft spots or bruising for the best quality. After you purchase them be sure to store them in the refrigerator promptly.
Cherries both sweet and tart can be enjoyed throughout the day and in various recipes. Try some of these for a new way to eat them:
- Cherry Bran Muffins
- Spinach Cherry Salad with Cherry Vinaigrette
- Cold Cherry Soup
- Grilled Chicken with Cherry Chipotle Barbeque Sauce
- Chocolate Cherry and Almond Bread Pudding
For more wonderful and healthy cherry recipes check out the National Cherry Festival recipe box.
Do you have a favorite cherry recipe that you would like to share? Do you prefer tart or sweet cherries and why? Have you ever been to Traverse City for the National Cherry Festival?
I love cherry picking up there, sometimes I freeze some of the excess cherries for a delightful, cold summer treat. And if I have more leftover, I have made homemade jam. I would love to hear from you and your favorite cherry experiences.
Photo Credit: D H Wright