Cherries are a perfect delight during the summer months. This vibrant red fruit has a blend of sour and sweet flavours. They add a perfect pop of colour to the desserts.
Sweet cherries are a popular temperate fruit due to the bioactive compounds in them. They benefit health by having a preventive effect in several chronic diseases.
What are cherries?
Cherry is a fleshy drupe or a stone fruit that grows on many plants in the genus Prunus.
Cherries range in shape from heart-shaped to nearly globular and are seen in colours from yellow to nearly black.
Sweet cherries have a low acid content. The sour cherry’s higher acid content produces its distinctive tart flavour.
Types of cherries
Cherries are classified into two types, namely sweet cherries and tart or sour cherries. There are many varieties of cherries that are sweet or sour.
Bing cherries, scientifically known as Prunus avium, belong to the Rosaceae family. It is a sweet cherry variety. Bing cherries have a sweet-tart, fruity flavour and render a tangy aftertaste.
These cherries have a plump and uniform round shape attached to a slender fibrous stem. A light brown pit in the flesh of bing cherries is inedible and should be discarded.
Bing cherries are high in antioxidants like vitamin A and C. They help to maintain the health of the organs, reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system and guard the cells against free radical damage.
Cherries also contain minerals like calcium and potassium. They function by protecting the bones and teeth, regulating the digestive tract and balancing the body fluids.
Rainier cherries are extremely sweet and are yellow in colour with a red blush. They are a hybrid of Van and Bing cherries.
On the palate, the rainier cherries give a delicately floral, sweet flavour with a slight tinge of peaches and a caramel.
Rainier cherries contain potassium, fibre and vitamins A and Vitamin C. They are useful for strengthening the immune system, increasing collagen production in the skin and reducing inflammation.
Chelan cherries are primarily produced in western countries. These are slightly heart-shaped and are dark red and sweet.
Their flesh is mahogany in colour and a few varieties possess exceptionally dark skin.
Chelan Cherries are high in vitamin C and antioxidants which boost the immune system. They act as an anti-inflammatory fruit and help lower the risk of cancer.
People with unstable blood sugar are suggested to restrict the intake of Chelan cherries.
A Montmorency cherry is a tart fruit with a deep red colour. On biting one of these cherries, yellow flesh with a strong tart and tangy flavour can be noticed.
They can help improve the gut balance and are also a great post-exercise snack. Montmorency cherries contain fibre, potassium and antioxidants, which are beneficial for health.
These cherries are also high in naturally occurring melatonin, which is an excellent sleep aid.
English Morello Cherries
English Morello is a dark red sour cherry with black borders. It is scientifically known as Prunus cerasus.
These cherries provide numerous health benefits, which include,
- Improved brain health
- Increased sleep quality
- Alleviating gout and arthritis symptoms
- Boost the immune system
Maraschino cherries are sweetened and preserved cherries produced from sweet cherries like Royal Ann, Gold or Rainier. The extreme sweetness of these cherries is obtained from the sugar syrup that they are soaked in.
Maraschino cherries are nutritious containing magnesium, iron, zinc, fibre, vitamin C, A and K.
Due to the calcium chloride and sulphur dioxide content, maraschino cherries can cause respiratory problems, skin rashes and liver disease. Tooth decay can also result from the consumption of maraschino cherries.
Amarena cherries are small, dark and sour cherries with a slightly bitter flavour. They are commonly preserved in sweet syrup.
Amarena cherries are high in antioxidants and can help in treating inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
Cherries, which contain melatonin, have been shown in studies to reduce the risk of developing cancer and to aid in the treatment of insomnia.
Cherry dried fruit is a type of dried fruit. They are known as dried cherries.
Dried cherries are popular in summer and are beneficial to one’s health. These cherries have diuretic effects.
People with high blood pressure or oedema will benefit from it. Research suggests that these cherries have antioxidants that may benefit people with heart problems.
Furthermore, research shows that eating dried Cherries may help those suffering from arthritis or gout reduce their pain.
Nutrition Facts for Cherries
The following nutritional facts are based on the article titled ‘Novel insights in health-promoting properties of sweet cherries’ published in the journal of functional foods and Indian Food Composition Table (IFCT) by NIN, ICMR.
100 g of red cherries (Prunus cerasus) contains,
- Energy: 63 Kcal
- Carbohydrates: 11.47 g
- Protein: 1.49 g
- Fat: 0.46 g
- Fibre: 2.1 g
- Calcium: 14 mg
- Magnesium: 10 mg
- Phosphorus: 20 mg
- Potassium: 200 mg
- Simple sugar: 125-265 g/kg
- Water: 80 %
7 Health benefits of cherries
Though cherries are smaller in size, the health benefit it offers is remarkable. Cherries are loaded with nutrients and provide several health benefits.
1. Helps in weight loss
Cherries are mostly water with high moisture content. Being rich in fibre, cherries give the feeling of fullness for a longer time.
Cherry’s B vitamin content like thiamine and vitamin B6 help in the metabolism and conversion of nutrients into energy. These properties of cherries can help in the weight loss process.
2. Rich in antioxidants
Our bodies contain free radicals, which are incomplete molecules. Excess free radicals are associated with cell damage, diseases and ageing. All these are referred to as oxidative stress.
Our saviour is the antioxidants. Antioxidants locate free radicals in the body and repair or completely eradicate them so that they can no longer cause damage.
Sweet cherries are a high antioxidant source. Polyphenols, carotenoids, melatonin, vitamin C and vitamin E are antioxidants that have beneficial effects on the body.
As a result, cherries have been shown to protect the body from several diseases, including heart disease, type II diabetes and cancer.
3. Enhances post-exercise recovery
Cherries can help to alleviate post-workout soreness. They also assist in muscle recovery by protecting against cellular wear and tear caused by exercise.
This makes cherry juice a popular drink among competitive and professional athletes. However, it can benefit anyone who is regularly active.
4. Maintains Heart health
The high potassium content of cherries aid in the removal of excess sodium from the body and also balance the levels of sodium and potassium. This in turn helps in maintaining the blood pressure level.
Studies show that drinking cherry juice assists in lowering total cholesterol, including LDL. This is significant because every 1% reduction in cholesterol reduces the risk of heart disease by 2%. A high LDL is especially concerning in terms of heart attack risk.
5. Improve symptoms of Arthritis and Gout
It is said that cherry consumption can help people with osteoarthritis. Incorporating cherries into the diet routine on a regular basis helps alleviate joint pain.
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that occurs when uric acid crystallises within the joints, causing excruciating pain and swelling.
According to a study, gout patients who consumed cherries (both fruit and juice) for two consecutive days had a 35% lower risk of gout attacks than those who did not include cherries in the diet.
6. May improve sleep quality
Phytochemicals including melatonin help in regulating the sleep cycles. These are abundant in cherries.
According to research published in the European Journal of Nutrition, tart cherry juice is beneficial in improving sleep quality and duration. It is also beneficial to those who have disturbed sleep.
Another small study shows promising signs that cherry juice may be beneficial to those who suffer from insomnia.
7. Boosts memory
Who wouldn’t want to improve their memory retention? Several studies on humans have found a positive impact in dementia patients with cherry consumption who showed improved memory and cognitive function.
Trials on rats and animal models have also been conducted to better understand the relationship between the nutrient composition of cherries and memory.
Anthocyanins in cherries have been shown in animal studies to improve memory and even prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Simple Cherry Recipes
Adding cherries to foods can pop their colour and makes them look delicious and tempting. Here are a few such recipes.
Jams are loved universally. It is hard to resist when one gets their hand on jams made with cherry.
- Cherries – 2 Cups
- Lemon juice – 3 tablespoon
- Sugar – 1 Cup
Method of preparation:
- Add all the ingredients to a pan and cook on medium flame.
- Stir the mixture constantly and mash the fruits while stirring.
- Continue the process for 20 – 30 minutes until the jam attains a thicker consistency.
- Place 2 plates in the freezer at the start of the recipe. This is to test the jam consistency.
- To perform the test, a blob of the jam is dropped on the plate and left for a couple of minutes.
- When pressed with an index finger, if the jam wrinkles, it is considered to be set. Cherry jam is all done now.
- Turn off the heat and take out the jam.
- Store it in a can and cover it once it cools down.
Cherry Barbecue sauce
The simple Cherry Barbecue Sauce can be made with fresh or frozen cherries and it goes well with chicken or pork.
- Pitted cherries – 2 Cups
- Brown sugar/Jaggery – 1/2 Cup
- Vinegar – 3 tablespoon
- Tomato paste – 1 tablespoon
- Water – 2/3 Cup
- Chilli flakes – 1 pinch
- Minced garlic – 1 teaspoon
- Corn starch – 1 tablespoon
- Salt – 1/4 teaspoon
Method of preparation:
- Combine water, cherries, vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar, garlic, chilli flakes and salt in a vessel.
- Bring to a boil over medium to high heat. Reduce to medium flame and heat in simmer for about 10 minutes till the cherries become soft and the quantity gets reduced slightly.
- Puree the cooked cherries with a blender. If necessary, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any remaining skins.
- Cook the sauce in the vessel again on the low flame. Mix 1 tablespoon water and corn starch. Whisk this gradually into the sauce to thicken the consistency and get the desired result.
- Allow to cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks.
Cherry muffins are a novel classic recipe that is a treat for any sweet-tooth individual.
- Cherries – 1 Cup (Chopped)
- All-purpose flour – 2 cups + 2 tablespoons
- Granulated sugar – 1/2 Cup
- Milk – 1 Cup
- Egg – 1
- Unsalted butter – 1/4 Cup
- Salt – 1/2 teaspoon
- Vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
- Baking powder – 1 tablespoon
- Cinnamon powder – 3/4 teaspoon
Method of preparation:
- Preheat the oven to 375o F or 190o C. Grease and flour the muffin cups. Place the greased muffin cups in the preheated oven.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.
- In the remaining 2 tablespoon flour, add the cherries and mix gently.
- Whisk the egg, milk, melted butter and vanilla extract in a separate bowl until they are blended.
- Combine the wet and dry mixture and stir until they are mixed well.
- Fill about two-thirds of each muffin cup with the batter.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Allow 10 to 15 minutes for the muffins to cool before serving.
Cherries are low-calorie red fruits with remarkable nutrient content. They are perfect fruits for the summer months. They are loaded with antioxidants and offer various health benefits.
Cherries help in weight loss, enhance post-workout recovery, improve heart health, relieve insomnia, alleviate symptoms of arthritis and gout and improve memory.
Though there are numerous benefits, the quantity of cherry consumption should be monitored and people with Diabetes or certain co-morbidities should be precautious in consuming cherries.
1.How many cherries can you eat in a day?
The benefits of cherries for sleeping can be attained by consuming 25 to 100 tart cherries in the concentrated form. This is a large number.
A person can start with 1 cup or 7 – 14 cherries a day to notice the gut reaction. The number can be increased based on tolerance. Too many cherries can also cause gastrointestinal symptoms in certain individuals.
2.What are the benefits of eating cherries?
Cherries are low in calories and high in fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. They also contain antioxidants like beta-carotene and the essential nutrient choline. These nutrients work together to guard us against heart diseases, cancer, Arthritis, gout and are very beneficial for treating insomnia.
3.Do cherries help you lose belly fat?
Cherries are ideal for losing stubborn belly fat. They contain fewer calories. 100 g of cherries provides 63 calories and 2.1 g of fibre. Fibre is associated with numerous weight loss benefits and helps in losing fat.
4.Can cherries help you sleep?
Cherries help you to sleep. Studies have shown that high levels of melatonin in cherries can help with increased sleep time and overall sleep efficiency.
5.Can I include dried cherries in my diet?
Yes, incorporating dried cherries into the daily diet is a small change that can have a big impact on health. Dried cherries can assist in meeting the daily vitamin and mineral requirements.
6.Can cherries help you lose weight?
Cherries are low in calories and high in vitamins, which are known to increase metabolism making them a perfect option for weight loss.