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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.
Two main types of cherries are produced in the United States: sweet cherries (Prunus avium) and tart or “sour” cherries (Prunus cerasus). Washington, California, and Oregon are the primary sweet cherry-producing states, accounting for almost 90 percent of the quantity produced nationwide. The primary tart cherry producing state is Michigan, accounting for nearly 74 percent of tart cherry production (NASS, 2015).
The sweet cherry originated in the area between the Black and Caspian Seas in Asia Minor. It is likely that bird feces carried it to Europe prior to human civilization. Greeks probably cultivated the fruit first. Romans cultivated the fruit as it was essential to the diet of the Roman Legionnaires (their use likely spread the fruit throughout Western Europe). It is believed that English Colonists brought the fruit to the New World prior to 1630, but they do not seem to have flourished in the eastern United States. Spanish Missionaries brought sweet cherries to California, and varieties were brought west by pioneers and fur traders as well. Sour cherries also are native to Asia Minor and were brought over to the New World by settlers rather early as well.
Usually, they will be in seasons in mid-June through early August. But this time around they are already in seasons in mid-May
Selection and storage
Cherry fruit season lasts from the end of May until August in the United States. Fresh ripe cherries have short shelf life. In the store, choose cherries that have bright, shiny skin with green stalk firmly attached at the top end of the fruit.
Keep fresh cherries in the refrigerator. Whenever you wish to eat them, just rinse cherries in water to remove dirt and to bring them back to room temperature. Then, gently pat dry with soft cloth to remove moisture.
1. Anti-cancer Properties
These properties can be attributed to the presence of flavonoids that impart the deep red color to cherries and powerful antioxidants that fight the free radicals in the body. Cyanidin is one such flavonoid from the anthocyanin group that prevents cancer cells from growing out of control. They are also rich in quercetin which is regarded as one of the most potent anticancer agents.
2. Promotes Peaceful Sleep:
Bad sleep patterns are largely caused due to unbalanced hormones, excess stress and unhealthy habits. Tart cherries contain melatonin, a hormone that induces peaceful sleep. Taking two tablespoons of tart cherry juice before going to bed is as effective as a melatonin supplement in promoting good sleep.
3. Cardiovascular Benefits:
Research conducted by the University of Michigan Health System indicated that the cardiovascular benefits provided by cherries are comparable to those of some medications. This is because the anthocyanins which impart the red color to tart cherries activate PPAR in bodily tissues, which regulates fat and glucose, thus preventing high cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes.
4. Lowers Blood Pressure:
Cherries are an excellent source of potassium which plays an important role in lowering blood pressure by getting rid of excess sodium in the body. Consumption of cherries helps in maintaining the balance of potassium and sodium, thus preventing hypertension. A cup of cherries has the same amount of potassium as a banana which makes it a great substitute for the banana.
5. Aids Weight Loss:
Cherries are low in calories and fat and they mainly comprise of water. Thus, eating cherries can help you lose weight, particularly belly fat. A cup of cherries contains less than 100 calories and 3 grams fiber, which can keep you full for longer. They also contain B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin and Vitamin B6 which are vital for metabolism and conversion of nutrients into energy. High water content increases energy levels and speeds up metabolism. Thus, cherry for weight loss is very beneficial.
6. Relieves Migraines:
The anthocyanins and bioflavonoids present in cherries help relieve headaches and migraines by reducing inflammation in the body. The effect of these compounds is comparable to that of aspirin and ibuprofen.