Reprinted with permission from Farmers & Artisans; Artisan Bakery & Local Foods Market; A year-round food market featuring a wide selection of locally grown, produced, and crafted quality foods and food items.
Cherries are one of nature's most amazing foods! They not only taste wonderful, but also provide an array of health benefits. Cherries come in two varieties: sweet and tart. While both sweet and tart cherries are full of healthy antioxidants, it's the tart varieties that really pack a healthful punch. Tart cherries and tart cherry juice have long been used in traditional and complementary medicine as treatments for arthritis, gout, muscle pain, diabetes, and any diseases associated with inflammation such as heart disease and arthritis.
In 2008, the University of Michigan conducted a study in which participants consumed one and a half servings (6 oz.) of tart cherries daily and showed increased antioxidant activity in their blood which reduced the risk factors for diabetes, cancer, inflammation, and heart disease which are all leading causes of death in the United States. The researchers found that the compounds responsible for these benefits are called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants and also give tart cherries their deep red color and tart taste.
With 98% of cherries consumed in the U.S. being grown in the U.S., cherries are readily available and easy to incorporate into every day meals. Throw a handful of dried tart cherries on your oatmeal or a salad, bake them in cookies and bars, and incorporate tart cherry juice into smoothies and shakes. Dried tart cherries can be used in place of raisins in almost any recipe and add a pop of flavor to any food. So grab a handful of dried tart cherries or drink a glass of cherry juice; they're delicious ways to stay healthy and happy.
Kelly is a Junior at Buffalo State College in the Coordinated Program in Dietetics and Nutrition.