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Cherries: Health Benefits And 4 Scrumptious Cherry Desserts

Discover everything about cherries, their health benefits, different types and some of the most popular cherry recipes.
Cherries: Health Benefits And 4 Scrumptious Cherry Desserts

 

Cherries are one of the most desirable fruits of spring thanks to its delightful flavor and sweet taste. Cherries contain many antioxidants and offer a range of health properties. Some of its benefits include alleviation of joint pain, treating insomnia and helping reduce abdominal fat.

We will discover all the properties of the cherry fruit, the difference between the different types of cherries available on the market and finally, look at some scrumptious cherry recipes that anyone can enjoy at home. 

Cherries - Definition and origin

The cherry is a fruit native to the regions of Eastern Europe and Asia Minor. Cherries have many unique nutrients and antioxidants that are beneficial to our health. This fruit evokes romanticism and is consumed all over the world.

According to research, cherries provide a wide range of nutrients, such as potassium, calcium, sugars and vitamin C. They also contain:

  • magnesium
  • iron
  • zinc
  • thiamine
  • riboflavin
  • niacin
  • vitamin E
  • Vitamin B6

The darker the color of the cherry, the healthier and more beneficial it is due to the greater amount of antioxidants. The fructose contained in cherries provides energy without being detrimental to diabetics.

In addition to this, cherries prevent oral infections and bad breath. The acids and flavonoids of this fruit are effective in protecting us from seasonal infections such as the cough,  the common cold, and measles.

Properties and health benefits of cherries

A cup of cherries is less than 100 calories and packs in 3 grams of fiber, which will keep you feeling full longer

 

Some of the health properties of cherries include reducing inflammation, lowering blood sugar levels, protecting the heart and improving memory. We detail each benefit of this delicious fruit below:

1. Anti-aging properties

Cherries contain a large number of antioxidants such as vitamin C, carotenoids and flavonoids (anthocyanins). They effectively neutralize free radicals and protect us from all the ailments associated with aging or with the action of oxidants.

For example, they protect us from the weakening of the heart and nervous system, vision loss, macular degeneration, hair loss, wrinkling of the skin, loss of libido, as well as colon and prostate cancer. This fruit can also help us treat insomnia and nervous disorders.

2. Boosts immunity

In addition to protecting against free radical damage, the antioxidants (vitamin C, carotenoids and flavonoids) found in cherries also reinforce our immunity system and protect us from bacterial, viral and fungal infections, such as colon, and gastrointestinal infections, cough, and colds.

According to a study published in 2012, this fruit is also effective against arthritis and inflammation. Cherries are also very effective in protecting us against the flu, fever and gout.

3. Can help prevent cancer

Many in vitro studies are currently underway to evaluate the anticancer effects of cherries. Research suggests that sour cherries contain anthocyanins and cyanidin that may help reduce the risk of colon cancer.

4. Improves eye care

In terms of eye care, the antioxidants found in cherries play a very important role. They protect the eyes against all damage caused by free radicals and aging, such as vision loss, macular degeneration, and dryness. They also help soothe irritated eyes, reduce inflammation and maintain adequate eye pressure, as well as protect our eyes from common infections.

5. Improve brain function

The flavonoids and carotenoids that cherries contain are very effective in improving brain efficiency, increasing the memory and keeping it active, which mitigates an almost inevitable consequence of aging. The antioxidant properties of cherries also protect the nervous system from age-related disorders.

Therefore, they can be useful in treating nervous disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, depression, anxiety disorder, and chronic stress.

6. Helps digestion

While the fiber in cherries helps relieve constipation, the acid in them aids digestion. Again, the antioxidants in this fruit keep our digestive system in order. Flavonoids stimulate digestive juices and bile, while vitamins facilitate a proper absorption of nutrients.

7. Reduce heart disease

The nutrients in cherries, such as vitamins, antioxidants (flavonoids and carotenoids) and minerals such as phosphorus, are excellent protectors for the heart. They protect the heart from almost all the damage caused by oxidants.

In addition, they help maintain a correct heart rate, preventing the blood vessels from hardening and reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, which reduces the risk of heart attacks. They also strengthen the muscles of the heart.

8. Protects against diabetes 

Sweet cherries have a low glycemic index, lower than apricots, grapes, peaches, blueberries or plums. This makes them a better fruit choice, especially for diabetics.

How to pick and conserve the best cherries?

Cherries are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including potassium, calcium, vitamin A and folic acid.

 

In Spain and the rest of Europe, the cherry season lasts from May to July. Fresh ripe cherries have a short shelf life. When shopping, we have to choose shiny and smooth cherries, with a firm green stem. Should they be picota cherries, they will not have a stem.

We have to keep them fresh in the fridge. Simply rinse them with water to remove the dirt and return them to room temperature, strain and eat. 

Differences between cherry, picota cherry, and sour cherry 

These three varieties of cherries are summer fruits and are distinguished by their flavor. We can find them in most of the supermarkets but sometimes they create confusion among shop-goers.

The cherry fruit is the fruit of many plants of the genus Prunus, and can be more sweet or sour according to their variety.  Valle del Jerte, a region in Spain, is famous for growing more than 100 varieties of different cherries. The ones that grow here are characterized by a short stem. 

On the other hand, picota cherries are a type of cherries that differ from the pervious ones because they do not have a stem since they cling to the tree naturally during their harvest. They are also smaller, crunchier and sweeter. They have certified as originating from the area of Valle del Jerte.

These cherries contain a high rate of tryptophan, serotonin, and melatonin, higher than the rest of the world's varieties, which transform the cherries into an effective immune system booster.

The sour cherries, on the other hand, are fruits belonging to the sour cherry tree. These are wild varieties and are classified as sour fruit. They are dark and short-stemmed and they are typically used when cooking. 

How to use cherries?

To eat a cherry, first, you have to remove the stem and pit, wash them in cold water and dry them gently with a cloth. It is important to eat also the skin, especially of the mature ones, since this way we obtain the maximum of its benefits.

Sweet cherries are often used to prepare several recipes. In the following section of this article, we will list four delicious cherry recipes. However, one of the best ways to enjoy cherries is to eat them fresh, just as they come off the tree. 

Cherries work really well in fruit cocktails alongside peaches, pineapple, pears, and grapes. We can also add them to fruit salads and mix them with peaches, pears, apricots, and pineapple. For desserts, we can add dried cherries to fruit cakes, bread, muffins, and cookies, or use as fillings for cakes and pies. Finally, we can use cherries to prepare sauces and jams.

Check out the original article: Cerezas: propiedades, beneficios y recetas con cerezas at viviendolasalud.com

4 scrumptious cherry recipes

We introduce 4 delicious cherry recipes, made with different types of cherries, easy and quick to make at home.

1.

To prepare a cherry jam we need:

  • a glass jar
  • 600 g clean cherries, pitless
  • 250 g sugar
  • juice from half lemon

First, place the cherries in a saucepan and add the sugar and the lemon juice. Mix everything well and leave in the fridge for 2 or 3 hours. Next, take them out and put them back in the saucepan. When the mixture starts to boil we lower the heat to minimum and let it boil for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the time has passed, put everything in a blender and let cool. Store in a glass jar

2.

To make a cherry cake for 4 people we need:

  • 500 g cherries, pitless 
  • 250 g puff pastry
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g sugar
  • 5 ml  vanilla essence
  • 200 ml milk
  • 80 g wheat flour

Place the puff pastry dough in the mold, previously coated with baking paper. Mix the eggs in a large bowl with the sugar and the vanilla extract. Slowly add the milk and flour. Carefully add the fruits and pour everything in the dough. Bake at 180ºC for 40 minutes. Let it cool a few minutes before removing and serving. 

3.

The cherry gazpacho is a fresh and original recipe, perfect for summer afternoons. To prepare this gazpacho for 4 people we need:

  • 500 g of pear tomatoes
  • 250 g cherries, pitless
  • 50 g red peppers
  • 50 g onion
  • 20 ml sherry vinegar
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 200 ml water

Clean the vegetables and chop them. Use a blender to blend your ingredients and slowly add the vinegar and oil. Strain the mixture after blending and let cool. 

4.

Finally, to make 1.5 l of cherry liqueur we need:

  • 1 kg cherries, pitless
  • 1 liter of brandy
  • 2 glasses of water
  • 0.5 kg of sugar

 The total preparation time is 4 months. First, crush the cherries and let them ferment for 3 days. Pour the crushed fruit in a jar along with the brandy and let it marinate for 2 months. Once this time has passed, filter the mixture and add water and the sugar, previously boiled. Let it rest for two more months. After this time, the liquor will be ready to serve. 

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