Cherries are of the rose family prunus. Their relatives are the stone fruits apricots, plums, and peaches. Early immigrants brought cherries to North America by way of ancient Greece and Europe.
Besides being delicious, cherries are densely packed with nutrients and healthful properties. Asian traditions use cherries for their warming properties in the body. They are said to increase Qi, or chi, the body’s own energy stores. By helping the body to remove waste from the tissues, cherries can benefit the glands in the body.
Cherries are a source of ellagic acid and perillyl alcohol, compounds being studied for use in cancer prevention, anti-angiogenic potential, and cell death in tumors. Ellagic acid is also being studied for its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
Other potent compounds in cherries, quercetin and the anthocyanins (pigments), have anti-inflammatory effects. These effects make cherries a wonderful addition to the diet when one is looking to help prevent conditions that may arise due to inflammation such as arthritis, gout, and heart disease.
Cherries should be stored dry, in the refrigerator for up to one week, or frozen for up to one year. For a quick, nutrient dense, delicious breakfast or snack, add fresh or fresh-frozen cherries to a cup of plain, organic yogurt.
Cherries are among the top twelve most highly sprayed produce, so pesticide-free cherries are advisable. You can stock up on fresh, local, healthful, and delicious cherries right now at our own favorite Farmer’s Market.
Mary Sjoberg, R.Ph.