What are Cherries?
Tiny, juicy and very tasty, we often come across this fruit in desserts, cakes, ice creams, tarts and muffins. A typical cherry is a fleshy drupe (stone fruit) belonging to the genus prunus, which also includes fruits like plums, peaches and apricots. Prunus avium is the name given to wild cherry as well as the cherry tree.
A typical cherry has a stony hard seed in the center surrounded by edible fleshy fruit measuring around 2 cm in diameter. It has a very thin skin which is bright and shiny red or purple in color. Cherries generally fall into two categories- wild or sweet cherry and sour or tart cherry. Sweet cherries belong to the species Prunus avium while the tart variety belongs to the species Prunus cerasus.
Cherries are a chef’s favourite as they can be used in a variety of recipes, making the dishes more attractive and delectable. Cherry extracts are often added to beverages and processed foods to impart flavor. Delicious, and loaded with nutrients, particularly Vitamin C and beta-carotene, cherries are definitely the choice if you are looking for a great combination of taste and health.
Cherries contain powerful antioxidants like anthocyanins and cyanidin. They also contain melatonin which helps with sleep. Some of cherries benefits are treat Gout, reduce Inflammation, support healthy sleep and arthritis pain relief among others.
Nutritional Highlights of Cherries
These wonderfully delicious tiny fruits are packed with health benefiting nutrients and unique antioxidants. They fall into the category of most nutritious fruits with their high content of antioxidants and vitamin C.
Amount Per 100 grams
- Calories 50
- Total Fat 0.3 g
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Sodium 3 mg
- Potassium 173 mg – 4% RDA
- Carbohydrate 12 g -4% RDA
- Dietary fiber 1.6 g – 6% RDA
- Sugar 8 g
- Protein 1 g – 2% RDA
- Vitamin A 25% RDA
- Vitamin C 16% RDA
- Calcium 1% RDA
- Iron 1% RDA
- Magnesium 2% RDA
Vitamins are essential for overall health. The abundance of vitamins in cherries makes it a wonder fruit. Vitamin A keeps hair and scalp hydrated. It also regulates the production of an essential acid called Retinoic acid which is important for hair follicles.
Vitamin B helps in improving blood circulation in the body, including the scalp, which results in regeneration of the existing cells and triggers hair growth.
Vitamin C is very essential for hair. It helps in strengthening hair follicles and prevents breakage from the roots. It also nourishes the hair and prevents split ends and hair fall by stimulating the growth of new hair follicles.
This vitamin helps in proper blood circulation to maintain immunity and helps prevent any hair damage. It also maintains appropriate moisture in the hair and scalp.
Calories, Carbohydrates and Sugars
One portion of cherries contains 97 calories, 25 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of sugar. A drawback of this fruit is that a large percentage of its calories come from sugar.
The USDA recommends 130 grams of carbohydrates a day, but people following some “low carb” diets are restricted to as few as 20 to 30 grams. A handful of cherries alone could exceed this limit.
One of the benefits of cherries is their fiber content. With 3 grams of fiber, cherries provide 13 percent of the recommended daily amount. Fiber promotes digestion, prevents constipation and aids in weight loss.
Cherries contain 10.8 milligrams of Vitamin C. This vitamin is necessary for the collagen formation of bones, blood, muscle and blood vessels and helps the body absorb iron. The fruit also contains beta carotene and provides low amounts of vitamin K, vitamin B-6 and vitamin A.
The potassium level of cherries is 342 milligrams, or 10 percent of the daily recommended intake. Potassium helps the heart and kidneys function properly and supports the body’s digestive and muscular systems. Cherries also contain some copper, manganese, magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorus and zinc.
Cherries are high in phytosterols. These plant sterols are used to lower “bad” cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Research at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University also suggests that phytosterols could help lower the risk of cancer and improve urinary tract symptoms.
Health benefits of cherries
When you eat cherries, you enjoy much more than just their amazing taste. They’re packed with antioxidants and offer many health benefits, including help with insomnia, joint pain and belly fat. Cherries could be just what the doctor ordered.
1. Reduces Cancer Risk
Cherries contain fiber, vitamin C, carotenoids, and anthocyanins, each of which may help play a role in cancer prevention. According to the National Cherry Growers & Industries Foundation:4
“The potential role of sweet cherries in cancer prevention lies mostly in the anthocyanin content, especially in cyanidin. Sweet cherries are a good source of cyanidins, which appear to act as an antioxidant and in this role may reduce cancer risk…
2.Supports Healthy Sleep
Cherries contain natural melatonin, which is a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger that helps “cool down” excess inflammation and associated oxidative stress. It also plays a vital role in sleep and bodily regeneration.
3. Reliefs Arthritis pain
Cherries have anti inflammatory properties that may help relieve pain from inflammatory osteoarthritis.
4. Heart Health
Consuming cherry may help activate PPAR (peroxisome proliferator activating receptors) in the body’s tissues, which help regulate genes involved in fat and glucose metabolism. This activation may help to lower the risk of heart disease.
5. Helps Improve Memory
Cherries a good source of anthocyanin, which can help enhance memory. Anthocyanin helps improve memory and motor function.
6. Helps Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Cherries contain the antioxidant anthocyanin which increases insulin production.
7. Aids in weight loss
A cherry is made up of more than 75 percent water. This water content makes cherries a perfect weight loss food as foods that are high in water and low in calories keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time than foods and drinks that are higher in calories. Cherries are also loaded with fiber, at
almost 3 grams per serving. This fiber helps accelerate weight loss and reduces your cholesterol levels by slowing its absorption into your blood.
8. Bone Health
Cherries contain boron which helps increase bone health when consumed in conjunction with magnesium and calcium.
9. Skin Health
Cherries contain flavonoids and antioxidants that help counteract the effects of free radicals that can help to prevent premature aging and help nourish the skin.
10. Maintain Healthy Hair
Cherries contain vitamin A which can help to hydrate your scalp. Cherries also contain retinoic acid that can improve the health of your hair. Vitamin E and vitamin C in cherries also can strengthen hair roots and improves blood circulation in the scalp.
11. Anti- ageing properties
Being endowed with the highest level of anti-oxidants, in comparison to other fruits, it helps in slowing down the ageing process by fighting those free radicals present in the body which make the skin look older.
How To Select Cherries
- Buy cherries which are firm and have a glossy surface. Avoid those with cuts or bruises.
- Dark colored cherries are the best to pick as they indicate proper ripeness.
- Cherries with bright green stems are ideal for eating. Those without stem should be consumed first as they tend to stale very quickly.
How To Store Cherries
- Cherries are delicate fruits and need to be stored properly in order to get the best flavour.
- If kept in room temperature they should be consumed within 2 days, else they’ll start getting dull and won’t be healthy to eat.
- Cherries can be stored for about a week by freezing them in the refrigerator. Keep them in a plastic pouch and place in the refrigerator.
- Cherries should be washed only before eating. Washing and then storing will quicken deterioration. Always store unwashed cherries in the refrigerator.
Uses Of Cherries (cooking/eating)
- Cherry, when cooked/ baked may get slightly discolored because of its reaction with baking soda/ baking powder which can be prevented by using buttermilk or sour cream while using it with milk in the preparation.
- Cherries can be enjoyed in their raw form by just washing properly and eating as raw fruits.
- Cherries are extensively used in cakes and puddings as toppings which enhance the flavor of the baked dish.
- Cherries are also used in baked cookies like chocolate and almond cookies.
- Cherry is used in a number of mock tails.
- It is also used in making fruit cream for fruit salad.
Cocoa Cherry Pork
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon ground ancho chile pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground dried chipotle pepper
- 2 (1 1/4 pound) boneless pork tenderloinskosher salt
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup cherry preserves
- 1/3 cup white vinegar1 pinch dried oregano
Prep Cook Ready In
5 m 35 m 40 m
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Whisk cocoa powder, ancho chile powder, cumin, black pepper, and chipotle pepper in a bowl. Set aside.
- Generously season tenderloins with salt, then coat in the cocoa powder mixture. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place tenderloins in the skillet and reduce heat to medium. Cook until browned on each side, about 4 minutes.
- Transfer tenderloins to a baking dish; cook in the preheated oven until pork is slightly pink in the center, about 20 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).
- Whisk cherry preserves, vinegar, and oregano in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil and cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over pork tenderloin and serve.
Negative Effects of Cherries
If you have an allergy to cherries, eating them may cause unpleasant — even dangerous — side effects. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology notes that an individual with a cherry allergy had sensations of her throat closing, shortness of breath and hives. If you experience any of these symptoms after eating cherries, avoid them in your diet and see your health care provider. If you do have a cherry allergy, you may also have allergies to other fruits.
Unless you’re allergic to cherries, eating them in recommended portions as part of a well-balanced diet will help you avoid potential side effects from excessive cherry consumption and nutrient deficiencies. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggests eating 1.5 cups from the fruit group — including cherries — daily when eating 1,600 calories per day, 2 cups of fruit when consuming 2,000 calories daily and 2.5 cups from the fruit group each day when following a 2,800-calorie meal plan.
Everyone’s stomach reacts differently to eating too many cherries. Some people may experience diarrhea, while others may suffer from constipation. Other possible side effects include nausea and vomiting.
Diarrhea. A single cup of cherries contains 3 grams of fiber, fulfilling one-eighth of our daily fiber requirements. Doctors often recommend cherries as a delicious cure to constipation, but if you eat too many, you can end up feeling rather under the weather.
Constipation. Health website MayoClinic.com reports that despite the high fibre content, eating too many cherries can also, surprisingly, result in constipation in certain people. They strongly advise that you not eat more than one cup of cherries in a single day.
Nausea and Vomiting. Cherries are rich in quercetin, an antioxidant that helps to stave off heart disease and cancer. In some people, an excess of quercetin can trigger nausea and vomiting in sensitive stomachs.
Stomach Bloating, Gas or Flatulence. Cherries are rich in cellulose, a carbohydrate that helps to regulate bowel movements. The bacteria present in our intestine feed on this carbohydrate and produce gas as a waste product. Eating too many cherries can trigger excess production of this gas which then leads to intestinal bloating, flatulence and discomfort.
Possible Weight Gain
It’s easy to pop dozens of cherries in your mouth with wild abandon, but while these little fruits are rich in nutrients, they are also chock full of sugar. A single cup of pitted cherries comes close to 100 calories, which means that eating too many cherries can derail your weight loss efforts efforts if you’re not careful. Robert Shmerling, M.D., of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, calculates that eating two cups of cherries a day can result in a gain of up to one and a half pound per month, provided that you do not make any other changes in your diet or exercise pattern.
Although rare, eating too many cherries can trigger allergic reactions in some people. These allergic reactions usually begin less than two hours after eating or handling cherries and typically affect the digestive tract, skin and nasal passages.
Medical practitioners at The National Institute of Health explain that there is no fixed quantity of cherries that will trigger these reactions. For some people, one or two cherries may be enough. Others may be able to consume two or more cups before symptoms develop. There is also no fixed time frame: Some people may go up to two hours before the onset of symptoms, while others can demonstrate symptoms immediately after eating too many cherries.
Histamines produced during an allergic reaction can result in an itching or tingling sensation in the mouth and throat, which may ultimately spread to the eyes and the skin. Some people who eat too many cherries may also experience bumps and an acute swelling in their throat, which may make swallowing difficult.
The UM Medical Center explains that eating too many cherries can cause swelling in the mouth, throat and sinuses, which in turn leads to difficulty in breathing. This is often accompanied by a runny or stuffy nose, and so it is very easy to mistake this condition for a cold or flu. However, ignoring the symptoms can be a costly mistake. The lack of oxygen caused by difficulty in breathing can result in sharp drops in heart rates and blood pressure, which can prove fatal.
The Pesticide Problem
Even a small amount of cherries can be loaded with toxic pesticides, say experts at the Pesticide Action Network. In fact, an article in Science and Nature magazine categorizes cherries among the “top 10 most poisonous foods we eat.” Both sources agree that cherries are quick to absorb toxic pesticides, which then affect our reproductive organs and result in developmental disorders if you eat too many cherries. To stay safe, they suggest that you stick to organic cherries and always wash cherries thoroughly before eating them.
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