Sweet Cherries: Summer’s Superfruit

cherries

Photo: Unsplash, Michal Grosicki

By Dana Helm

This summer, cherries should be much more than a cocktail garnish. You’ll want to keep these sweet treats on hand to incorporate into all dishes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. According to the USDA, consuming sweet Bing cherries can help to prevent chronic inflammatory diseases.

Keeping cherries in your diet may also provide the following health benefits to:

Reduce Inflammation

Cherries are full of anthocyanins, antioxidants that help fight inflammation by shutting down the enzymes that cause tissue inflammation–the exact same way ibuprofen and naproxen do.

Help Gout Sufferers

Gout, a painful form of arthritis, is associated with elevated levels of uric acid. A study at the University of California at Davis showed that participants had reduced levels of uric acid after eating sweet cherries.

Fight Diabetes

Research at Michigan State University showed that the anthocyanins found in cherries lowered blood sugar in animals. The researchers speculate that the same effect occurs in humans.

Improve Sleep

Cherries are an excellent natural source of melatonin, the chemical that controls the body’s internal clock to regulate sleep. Melatonin helps reduce jet lag and promotes overall healthy sleep patterns.

Fight Cancer

The flavonoids isoqueritrin and queritrin, and the phenol, ellagic acid3, were verified in cherries. The flavonoids are known to be antioxidants, and ellagic acid appears to be a potent inhibitor to the growth of cancer cells.

Boost Fiber Intake

Americans are at a fiber deficit, falling far short of the 25-35-gram daily recommendation. The latest Dietary Guidelines recommend 2 cups of fruit daily, and cherries help to meet that recommendation.

Promote Weight Loss

With a glycemic index (GI) of only 22, cherries may help promote weight loss. While foods with GI above 70 cause blood glucose to soar, then quickly crash causing hunger, foods with a low GI release glucose into the body slowly and evenly leaving you feeling full.

Looking to incorporate more cherries into your diet? The team at Northwest Cherry Growers were good enough to share some of their own delicious recipes.

 

cherry bruschetta northwest cherry growers

Cherry Bruschetta
Makes 18 appetizers

18 slices (1/2-inch thick) small baguette-style bread
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1-1/2 cups pitted Northwest fresh sweet cherries, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup each chopped cilantro and diced yellow sweet pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon grated lime peel
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil

Toast one side of baguette slices at 350°F for 5 minutes. Turn slices, brush with olive oil and bake 5 minutes longer. Combine cherries, cilantro, pepper, green onions, lime juice, lime peel, salt, pepper, and remaining olive oil; mix well. Top each slice of baguette with a thin slice of fresh mozzarella cheese, a heaping tablespoon of cherry mixture and sliced basil. Serve warm or cold.

 

cherry picnic salad northwest cherry growers

Fresh Cherry Picnic Salad
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 cup sugar snap peas
2 cups pitted Northwest fresh sweet cherries
1 medium cucumber, halved, seeded and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 cup red radishes, cut into wedge-shaped pieces
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon each toasted sesame seeds and grated fresh ginger root
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

Blanch peas in boiling salted water 1 minute; plunge into iced water to cool. Drain. Mix cherries, cucumber, radishes, and peas. Combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour over cherry mixture and toss to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator at least one hour.

 

cherry tarragon limeade northwest cherry growers

Cherry + Tarragon Limeade
Makes one serving

1 1/2 ounces tarragon simple syrup (recipe below)
1 1/2 ounces lime juice
5 pitted cherries
Soda water
Ice

Fill a pint glass halfway with ice. Add 3 cherries and, using a wooden muddle, crush cherries to break apart and release juices. Add tarragon syrup, lime juice and stir. Fill pint glass to the top with ice and fill to top with soda water. Skewer remaining 2 cherries and place on top as garnish with a sprig of tarragon.

Tarragon simple syrup
Makes: 3 ounces

2 ½ ounces sugar
2 ½ ounces water
3 fat branch fresh tarragon
Zest of ½ orange, zested on a microplane

In a small saucepan warm sugar and water, stir to fully dissolve sugar. Do not boil. When small bubbles start to form, add tarragon and orange. Remove from heat and cool. When cool, remove tarragon from syrup.

Recipes and photos courtesy of Northwest Cherry Growers

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