God Sure Knew What He was Doin’ When He Made Cherries!
It’s time for cherries. And like watermelon season, we drool over the very idea of cherry season.
While cherries are popular because of their sweet and juicy characteristics, more and more research shows they’re extremely beneficial for a lot of health ailments, too.
The nutrients and bioactive components in cherries support their preventive health benefits. They’re associated with the prevention of:
free radical damage and protect our cells
Research shows cherries are loaded with melatonin, thus helping improve your sleep cycle. And on top of that, they’re a nutrient-dense food rich in anthocyanins, quercetin, hydroxycinnamates, potassium, and carotenoids. In addition, cherries are a high-fiber food and excellent vitamin C food source. Sweet cherries also have a lower glycemic index of 22, which is surprisingly lower than apricots, grapes, peaches, blueberries and plums.
I’ve also been finding that cherries can successfully heal gout. In case you’ve never dealt with gout, it’s a painful, arthritic condition mainly afflicting the big toe. The big toe becomes stiff, inflamed and painful as a result of excess uric acid leading to crystals formed in joints. The pain comes from the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response to the crystals. High uric acid levels can lead to more serious health issues, also, such as diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease.
Then there’s the potassium in cherries. We usually think of bananas when we look at potassium in food. But cherries are loaded with it. While you snack on this delicious potassium-rich food, you feed your body a required mineral for the function of several organs, including the heart, kidneys, brain and muscular tissues. Potassium reduces the risk of stroke, alleviates hypertension and high blood pressure, reduces muscle cramping, and improves muscle strength.
An easy way to get cherries into your diet is with a delicious drink I found on a health-oriented site, Food is Medicine, by Dr. Axe (www.draxe.com). This is a cherry limeade. I’ve found it works with frozen cherries as well (nice to know since fresh cherry season is only May through July).
1 cup lime juice
2 to 3 cups fresh tart cherries (OR 1 package frozen, pitted cherries, thawed)
2-4 tablespoons raw honey
16 ounces sparkling natural mineral water
Combine lime juice, cherries, honey and ice into a blender until well incorporated.
Pour into a tall glass with sparkling natural mineral water and stir with a spoon.
Another easy way to get fresh cherries into your diet is to make a salad with them. Our favorite is fresh baby spinach and leaf lettuces with halved cherries and walnuts. This is so juicy and delicious that you don’t even need a dressing (a radical thought, I know).
And tart cherry juice and syrup is one more very popular way people are getting the health benefits from this special fruit. We buy ours at our farmer’s market every year and ration it out starting in the fall. Just 1 tablespoon of syrup to 8 ounces of water is a health-packed drink.
Finally, I’ll close with a family memory. When our kids were young, I would “rent” a cherry tree every year from a good friend who was an orchardist. Typically we’d pick at least 300 pounds of cherries and then can them. We’d just use plain water (they were sweet enough that we didn’t need any extra sugar).
The family has wonderful memories of this now, even though at the time there was a lot of moaning and groaning. But when summer was over and gone, it was awfully nice to be able to open a quart or two of home-canned cherries on a wintery night as a before-bedtime treat. I can still hear our son, Paul, exclaim between slurps, “Boy, God sure knew what He was doin’ when He made cherries, didn’t He, Mom?!”
Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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