Binging on Cherries this season ? Go for it !
These tiny, tasty summer treats are packed with antioxidants and Vitamins A, B, C and D. They contain potassium, flavonoids and fiber all of which have amazing health benefits. Not only will they help defend us from aging skin, they fight against cancer, gout and arthritis. Cherries can help to lower your blood pressure, fight constipation, contribute to weight loss and promote sleep. So, make a cocktail with some sour cherry juice by my favorite cook book author and “mixologist”, Donata Maggipinto (see below) and celebrate this mighty little fruit!
8 Healthy reasons to keep eating Cherries
- Anti-aging ; Free radical fighting cherries packed with Vitamin C and flavonoids neutralize oxidative damage to the body. Free radicals and hence, oxidative stress can cause a plethora of aging ailments . They weaken the heart, the nervous system and degenerate everything from vision to libido.
- Skin ; Cherries contain Vitamins A and C which are known as powerful antioxidants . These vitamins combined with nutrients like manganese and potassium are essential for optimal skin health. Additionally, the natural Alkaline content in a cherry helps to maintain healthy PH levels.
- Cancer; Cyanidin, a flavonoid found in the deep red pigment of cherries inhibits cancerous cell growth. Anthocyanins, carotenoids and Vitamin C may all play a role in cancer prevention. So, start eating those sweet cherries.
- Gout and Arthritis: Cherries have the ability to reduce inflammation throughout the body and thus can minimizes the damaging effects of high C-reactive proteins and Uric acid. Tart cherries also contribute to muscle recovery and pain relief associated with arthritis.
- Blood pressure ; Cherries help to keep a healthy Potassium to sodium balance. This can help to reduce hypertension. One cup of cherries has as much potassium as a banana.
- Constipation and Digestion; Cherries are loaded with constipation reducing fiber and the flavonoids help stimulate digestive acids contributing to regularity. The abundance of vitamins contained in this tiny fruits contributes to nutrient absorption.
- Weight Loss ; Tart or sour cherries can help reduce belly fat ! Cherries contain B vitamins like B6, riboflavin and thiamin. Theses vitamins increase metabolism and help to convert nutrients to energy. One cup of cherries is less than 100 calories and contain about 3 grams of fiber.
- Sleep enhancement : Tart cherries contain phytochemicals like natural melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone that is produced by the pineal gland and plays a critical role in cellular regeneration and sleep. So, try a couple of tablespoons of tart cherry juice before bed and catch some Z’s.
Where Did The Cherry Come From, Anyway ?
Originally, cherries were a favorite amongst the Romans, the Greeks and the Chinese. Sweet cherries may have originated in Western Asia and they are thought to have been carried to Europe by birds. They made there way to American with our founding father’s and have become one of the early signs of summer in America ever since. They are grown primarily in the North West and Michigan due to climate. It’s a very short growing season and only lasts from May to July so take advantage of the season before they are gone.
The sweet vs. tart cherry ?
There are two basic varieties of cherries; Sweet and Tart. Both of which have amazing health benefits.
Sweet Cherries : The most common type is the Bing but Rainier and Lambert’s are also is easy to find. Sweet cherries are most often consumed fresh.
Tart Cherries: Also known as Montmorency cherries are predominantly grown in the U.S. These sour cherries are usually a bright red color whether fresh or dried. Tart cherries are a favorite for baking and juicing as well.
Don’t forget the Maraschino Cherry !
Let’s face it, as kids, that bright red maraschino cherry was the treasure at the bottom of our Shirley Temples, right ?! Did you know that it originated in Yugoslavia and Northern Italy and that traveling merchants would soak the “Marasca” cherries in liqueur ? Maraschino cherries hit the American market in the 1890’s. and were initially imported from Europe. Eventually, the European version was replaced here in America with a version of it’s own minus the alcohol but with the addition of a little more sugar and coloring.
How do I keep my cherries fresh ?
Cherries can spoil extremely quickly so place them in a plastic bag as soon as possible and put in the refrigerator. Wash before eating and don’t forget to freeze some for a later date. .
Cherry Aperol Spritz
This take on the classic Italian cocktail serves up big flavor without a lot of alcohol. Aperol, an aromatic bitter orange aperitivo reminiscent of Campari but sweeter, never fails to conjure up images of the Amalfi coast. I slicked the spritz with Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur. The liqueur is NOT made from the cloying neon-red cherries that gild ice cream sundaes and sweet cocktails but from sour Marasca cherries found almost exclusively in Italy. The distillation of sour fruit and crushed cherry pits imbues the liqueur with soft almond notes and a complexity of flavor that elevates any cocktail.
The Cherry Aperol Spritz is an easy drink to make. Keep the ingredients in your liquor cabinet so you can pour sips of la dolce vita for your friends.
Makes 1 cocktail
- 3 ounces Prosecco
- 2 ounces Aperol
- 1 ounce Luxardo cherry liqueur
- 1 splash club soda
Fill a glass with ice. Pour in the Prosecco, Aperol, and cherry liqueur and add a splash of soda. Garnish with orange peel and a cherry. Recipe courtesy of Donata Maggipinto.
Cookbook author, cocktail enthusiast, and founder of the popular blog Ciao Donata, Donata Maggipinto is committed to living la dolce vita everyday.
Dr. Mercola Aug 2, 2014
Tanya Zuckerbrot July 09, 2013
The extraordinary history of Cherries
Natural new Jan 1, 2009