Wonderfully delicious, cherry fruit is packed with full of health-benefiting nutrients and unique antioxidants. Cherries are native to Eastern Europe and Asia Minor regions. Botanically, the fruit is a “drupe” (stone fruit), belonging to the large Rosaceae family of small tree fruits in the genus, Prunus. Some of the common “drupe” family fruits are plums, peaches, apricots, etc. Although several species of cherries exist, two popular cultivars are wild or sweet cherry and sour or tart cherry.
Benefits of cherry
- Anti-aging Properties – A research conducted by Ferretti G in the Polytechnic University of Marche, Italy, cherries are the storehouses of antioxidants such as vitamin C, carotenoids, and flavonoids (anthocyanins). They effectively neutralize the free radicals and protect us from all ailments associated with aging or the action of oxidants, such as weakening of the heart and nervous system, loss of vision, macular degeneration, hair loss, wrinkling of skin, loss of libido, as well as colon and prostate cancer. This effect of cherries can also help with sleeplessness, nervous disorders and many other mental discomforts.
- Boost Immunity – Apart from protecting against the damage of free radicals, the antioxidants (vitamin C, carotenoids, and flavonoids) also boost immunity and protect us from bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, particularly those of the colon, urinary tract, intestines, and excretory system as well as coughs and colds. According to a study published in 2012, cherries are also effective against arthritis and inflammation. They are also very effective in giving protection against flu, fevers, and gout.
- May Help Prevent Cancer – A lot of in-vitro studies are ongoing to gauge the anticancer effects of cherries and the results are promising. Research conducted at Michigan State University and published in the Cancer Letters journal suggests that tart cherries that contain anthocyanins and cyanidin that may help lower the risk of colon cancer. One more study on tart cherries shows a potential activity of apoptosis in human breast cancer cells. The results show a biphasic pattern and more studies are awaited.
- Eye Care – Again the antioxidants in cherries play a powerful role. They protect our eyes against all the damage done by free radicals and aging such as vision loss, macular degeneration, and dryness. They also helps in soothing the eyes, reducing inflammation and maintaining the proper ocular pressure. They also protect our eyes from common infections.
- Improve Brain Function – Flavonoids and carotenoids are very effective in improving the efficiency of the brain, improving the memory and keeping it active, which are otherwise reduced due to the action of free radicals as a unavoidable part of aging. Those who are afraid of having a dull brain and a low memory capacity in their old age, start eating cherries! The antioxidant properties of these cherries also protect the nervous system from age-related disorders. Thus, they can be helpful in treating nervous disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, disappointment, undue anxiety, and chronic stress.
- Aid in Digestion – While the fiber in cherries helps to relieve constipation, the acid in them aids in digestion. Again, the antioxidants in cherries keep the digestive system in order. The flavonoids stimulate the digestive juices and bile, while the vitamins help in the proper absorption of the nutrients.
- Reduce Heart Diseases – The nutrients in cherries like vitamins, antioxidants (flavonoids and carotenoids) and minerals such as phosphorus are excellent cardio-protectors. They protect the heart from nearly all the damage done by the oxidants. They helps to maintain proper heart rate, prevent blood vessels from hardening, and reduce the cholesterol and blood pressure.Thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks.They also strengthens the cardiac muscles.
The darker, the color of the cherry, the more healthy and beneficial it is, because of richer antioxidant content. The fructose in cherries provides energy without harming diabetics. These little fruits prevent oral infections and keep away bad breath. The acids and flavonoids in cherries are good appetizers. They are even effective in protecting from seasonal infections like a cough, cold, pox, mumps, and measles.
Adding cherries to your diet
Sweet Cherries are often eaten fresh or raw. Cherries can also be found in fresh fruit salads with the seed removed. They can be a delightful treat in yogurts, since they add a great flavor and taste. Cherries are also eaten in pies, jellies, and preserves. Once dried, the cherries are sold as a part of a trail mix. Dried cherries are also found in preserved fruit mixes, that are used for making fruit and rum cakes, during Christmas time.
Recipe for Cherry pie
A delicious cherry pie recipe made with a fresh sweet cherry pie filling.
TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR 30 MINS, PREP TIME: 30 MINS, COOK TIME: 1 HOUR
1 unbaked double pie crust recipe
5 cups sweet cherries, pitted
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup corn starch
1 Tbsp of butter, cut into tiny pieces
1 Tbsp. milk
sugar for sprinkling (I used turbinado)
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Toss together the pitted cherries, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, almond extract, vanilla extract and corn starch in a large bowl, until evenly coated.
Roll out the bottom pie crust, and gently lay it in a 9-inch pie pan. Transfer the cherry filling to the pie crust and sprinkle with little dots of butter.
Roll out the top pie crust and either lay on top and cut a few slits in the middle to make a full double pie crust or cut the top pie crust into strips to make a lattice pie crust. Brush pie crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Then, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes, before baking.
Place the pie in the middle rack, with a baking sheet or pie of aluminum foil on the rack below to catch any pie drippings. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temp to 350°F and cook for 35-45 additional minutes or until the crust is nicely golden and the filling is thick and bubbly.
Remove and allow it to cool completely before serving.
Recipe for Cherry Almond Smoothie
Makes 1 large (breakfast sized) smoothie.
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or whatever milk you prefer)
1 tablespoon hemp hearts (or flax seeds or chia seeds)
2 tablespoons raw almonds
1/4 of a frozen banana
1 cup frozen tart cherries
1 heaping cup baby spinach leaves
a dash, like 1/8 teaspoon, pure almond extract
Layer all of the ingredients in your blender and blend! Tamp down the ingredients as needed, blend until smooth. Drink.
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