Did you know that February is National Cherry Month? This doesn’t seem to make much sense since cherries are typically in season from May to August. Although, with the availability of out-of-season fruits and vegetables increasingly more available any time of year, you are sure to find cherries somewhere in the middle of winter. Of course, cherries found in the middle of winter are likely imported from somewhere in the world where it is summer. Cherries are one of the yummiest fruits and come to find out they contain many health benefits as well.
There are two types of cherries, sweet cherries and sour cherries. Sweet cherries, in particular, are the type that the health benefits can be attributed to. This is due to the significant amount of anthocyanins, phytochemicals and flavonoids found in sweet cherries. Cherries also contain potassium and quercetin, which are additional health promoting nutrients.
Cherries have cancer fighting properties. Particularly the cyandins, a form of anthocyanins, found in cherries appear to act as antioxidants that may reduce cancer risk. The anthocyanins in cherries also contain protective benefits for the heart and related vascular tissue.
Select phytochemicals have been shown to fight inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a risk factor for various chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and arthritis. Flavonoids may play a role in protecting cells involved in neurological function. Furthermore, studies are being done to examine the benefits that cherries may have in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Cherries are rich in potassium. Potassium rich eating plans have been linked to a reduction in the risk for hypertension and stroke. Cherries also contain small amounts of quercetin, which have been linked to reducing oxidative reactions related to cardiovascular disease and cancer.
It is best to buy cherries when they are in season. Make sure to look for dark, plum cherries with bright green stems. Cherries should be kept either in a paper bag, a loosely covered container or plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to be eaten. Always rinse cherries in cool water before you eat them.
Cherries are very versatile. They can be eaten alone or incorporated in many dishes. Cherries can be added to salads, entrees, baked goods or other desserts. They can be used as a garnish to add eye appeal, color and to add interest to dishes as well. From chocolate covered cherries, to cherry pie, to marinated cherry salad and even cherry chicken salad, you can see how cherries can give a nice twist to an everyday dish.
Your turn to take action: What new cherry recipes will you look for this week so that you can be ready for when cherries show up in grocery stores again?