Cherries have long been a part of the human diet as indicated by its name. “Cherry” comes from the Latin cerasum. As it happens, Cerasus is what the Ancient Romans called an area in northern Turkey where cherries were said to be first exported into Europe.
While there are still several varieties of cherries today, there are only two types that are most widely cultivated and distributed. These would be wild or sweet cherries (Prunus avium) and sour or tart cherries (Prunus cerasus). Almost half of the production of this fruit is done in Europe with Turkey as the top producer. In 2009 this country grew almost half a million metric tons of cherries.
The Superhuman Food Pyramid encourages you to include cherries in your diet. There are few fruits that can deliver so much nutrition in such a small package. Read on to find out what health benefits can be had from eating cherries.
Just like most berries, cherries are rich in anthocyanin. This is the phytochemical that gives such fruits their color. Research into its effect on human health has shown antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.
Antioxidants as you may know are substances that can either capture free radicals and minimize their damage to cells or limit certain biochemical processes that produce free radicals. In one research involving patients undergoing dialysis, anthocyanin was observed to reduce the oxidative damage to DNA as well as inhibit the oxidation of fats.
As for this substance’s ability to reduce inflammation, it seems to be able to inhibit an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. This is actually the same activity that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs perform to be effective. Cherries can thus be a natural way to help lessen the aches and pains that come from strenuous physical exercise.
The sour or tart variety of cherry is able to increase the amount of melatonin your body produces. Melatonin is the hormone that, among other functions, regulates your body clock or circadian rhythm. The study that looked into this property of tart cherries used a concentrate of the fruit. It found that while no changes in the body clock’s timing occurred, there was noticeable increase in sleep duration.
For nutritional content here is a short comparison between sweet and tart cherries, showing some of their more abundant vitamins and minerals (for every 100 grams of the fruits):
Sweet – 7 mg Vitamin C, 640 IU Vitamin A, 222 mg Potassium, 13 mg Calcium
Tart – 10 mg Vitamin C, 1283 IU Vitamin A, 179 mg Potassium, 16 mg Calcium
Cherry Practical Uses:
Cherry season is May until August. It’s advantageous to purchase fruits when they’re in season because what’s available in the market more likely comes from local producers. This in turn means that the fruits are fresher and probably cheaper.
It’s okay to refrigerate or stock cherries and other fragile fruits in the freezer. This will extend your household supply and cold temperatures can preserve the antioxidants and other nutrients in the fruit. Simply thaw and wash them out when you plan to use them.
Sweet cherries are naturally better suited for dessert recipes and tart cherries for cooking. Whatever the purpose, you’re likely going to have to remove the pits, and so keeping a cherry pitter handy can make preparations a lot easier.
To take advantage of the anti-inflammatory properties of the fruit, consider using cherries as one of the ingredients in your post-workout power drink. Frequently adding either sweet or tart cherries in a fresh salad for the evening meal might help against some lack of sleep.
In the next post, I’ll tell you the benefits of cantaloupe that will help you in your quest to Become Superhuman.
In the meantime, if you care to jump ahead, here is a complete listing of the fruits on Superhuman Food Pyramid:
If you have questions, comments or feedback about the benefits of cherries, the Superhuman Food Pyramid, this website, or other aspects of Becoming Superhuman, then leave your thoughts below, as well as any tips you have on the benefits of cherries.