Health Benefits of Cherries
South Australians can enjoy delicious, sweet, fresh cherries this summer knowing that they are also looking after their health.
A study commissioned by the Victorian Cherry Association has conclusively concluded that “fresh cherries are indeed very beneficial in maintaining good health”. At least one serving of cherries per day is required, with additional servings delivering more benefits. Forget moderation! When it comes to the health impact of cherries, more is better!
Cherries have a unique combination of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds which act together to deliver health benefits not available in supplements. Fresh foods not only retain more of their nutrients than processed foods or supplements, but these act together to naturally provide the body with a more complex and potent mix of the compounds it requires to prevent disease.
Weight Loss and Management
Cherries have only 224 kilojoules (54 calories) per 100 grams and virtually no fat.
Slow Impact of Ageing
Vitamins E and C and the flavonoids found in cherries and other fruits may slow ageing and they may slow or even reverse the symptoms of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Cherries also contain compounds that can help to slow or inhibit the progression of cancer (Polyphenolics Egallic acid and Lignans).
Antioxidants are necessary to clear the body of damaging free radicals and they are most effectively acquired through diet. If we don’t consume enough antioxidants, damage can occur, leading to degeneration and disease including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, cancer, inflammatory conditions and neurological diseases. Sweet cherries contain 16 antioxidants, plus a suite of other compounds with beneficial health benefits.
Cherries may benefit people suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions such as gout, pancreatitis, or prostitis, as well as allergic conditions includingasthma, hay fever, eczema and hives because they contain the compounds cyanidin and quercetin.
So cherry lovers can indulge to their heart’s content, because the study concluded that cherries have significant health benefits in slowing or inhibiting the progression of cancer, ageing, neurological diseases, cardiovascular disease and inflammatory conditions. They may also aid in detoxification of foreign substances.
Cherries originated in the area between the Black and Caspian seas of Asia minor and they are believed to have spread to Ancient Greece and the Mediterranean (where they were first cultivated) by 70 BC.
History tells us that cherries were integral part of the Legionnaire’s diet and they were introduced to Europe with the establishment of the Roman Empire. Throughout history, cherries were always valued as a food source and during the 15th and 16th centuries they were used for medicinal purposes.
Cherries have been grown in Australia since the late 1800’s and we Australians love our cherries, consuming more than 7,000 tonnes of fresh product every year!
Store cherries unwashed and packed loosely (to minimise bruising) in a plastic bag in the refrigerator and wash just prior to eating – or place them in a shallow container in a single layer and cover with plastic wrap. Fresh cherries are best eaten within three days of purchase.
Cherries are a delicious, fresh, summer snack. When serving fresh cherries, simply rinse them under cold water and drain… they look a treat with the stems left intact.
To pit cherries for cooking, halve them with a paring knife and pry out the pit with the tip of the knife, or use a cherry or olive pitter that can be found in any good homeware store (see links.)