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Healthy recipes > cooking & nutrition tips >

The Power of cherries

By Doug Donaldson
Photos by Scott Little
Food styling by Dianna Nolin and Greg Luna
Prop styling by Sue Mitchell

Choose tart or sweet cherries for a quick snack packed with healthful benefits.

This delicious, bite-size fruit is much more than a summer dessert topping. With help from cherry expert Russel J. Reiter, Ph.D., professor of cellular and structural biology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio—and lots of tasty studies—we found plenty of healthful reasons to fall in love with cherries.

1. Heart Booster.
Adding cherries to your diet may help decrease the severity of conditions such as cardiovascular disease or cancer, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

2. Tasty Choice.
You can find a type of cherry to suit your taste. For example, Bing cherries are the big, sweet ones available during the summer months. Smaller tart cherries often are baked in pies or are dried.

3. Antioxidant Punch.
“Tart cherries have significant amounts of vitamins C and E and melatonin,” says Reiter, a leading melatonin researcher.

4. Perfect Topping.
Increase your chances of reaching your daily recommended amount of fruit plus boost your fiber intake by simply sprinkling dried cherries on oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, or salad.

5. Energy Bar Substitute.
For a change of pace, swap dried cherries for your usual after-workout energy bar. A 1⁄2-cup serving of dried cherries has 200 calories and about 49 grams of carbohydrates—about the same as an energy bar.

6. Refreshing Drink.
Cherry juice concentrates the antioxidant effects and may help relieve pain and gout, Reiter says. Mix cherry juice concentrate with water or cold seltzer water to chill out this summer.

7. Snooze Aid.
Tart cherries are pumped full of melatonin, which can positively impact sleep patterns. If you eat enough (about a handful) you may sleep better, Reiter says.

8. Bland Meal Booster.
Ordinary foods, such as pancakes, muffins, couscous, risotto, and rice pilaf, can be more healthful and have more zing when you stir in 1⁄2 cup of dried tart cherries.

9. Ache Easer.
Studies have shown that cherries have anti-inflammatory effects, and this characteristic may help manage or possibly prevent inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, according to the USDA.

10. Summer Keeper.
While Bing cherries stick around for summer, you can carry the taste of cherries through the rest of the year with other versions of the fruit—dried, frozen, and juice. Tart cherries, rarely available fresh, typically are frozen or canned immediately after picking.

Continued on Page 2: Cherry Recipes
 
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