Cherries are officially in season during the early summer months. This tiny but mighty fruit grows on trees and there are several varieties. These include sour, sweet, and duke cherries. Duke cherries are a cross between sweet and sour cherries.
The variation in the flavor of cherries comes from differing acidity levels found in each type. Higher acidity cherries taste more sour while lower ones have a sweeter taste. Not only are cherries flavorful, but they also provide an excellent source of many essential nutrients.
Let’s get into more about the cherry season and learn about the health benefits of cherries!
When are cherries in season?
Cherries grow in various parts of the world. China, the US, and Europe all have cherry-growing seasons.
Cherries are most often grown in the Northern hemisphere as they require colder temperatures to blossom in the Spring.
Cherries are generally in season from late May to late July in the United States.
Cherry seasonality varies by state with California having a slightly earlier season than the more northern or midwestern states.
June is peak cherry season for most states.
Although you may see cherry blossoms or Sakura trees bloom in the Spring months, these types of cherry trees typically do not produce the actual cherry fruit that we eat.
Now let’s dive into the impressive nutrition benefits that cherries contain!
Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory
Cherries are a natural source of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are a chemical naturally occurring in many foods and give cherries their beautiful reddish-purple hue.
Studies have shown that the anthocyanins contained in cherries help prevent inflammation through their antioxidant properties.
Cherries show promise in helping to reduce the symptoms associated with inflammatory conditions. These include intestinal and neurodegenerative conditions.
The same anthocyanins mentioned above can play a role in diabetes. Cell studies have shown that anthocyanins in cherries can help the pancreas to secrete more insulin. This in turn may help with the control of blood sugar levels.
Also, in another win for those looking to control blood sugar, cherries have a lower glycemic index than many other fruits.
The Glycemic index is the measure of how fast food breaks down in the body and how quickly its absorbed into the blood.
It is important that people who are diabetic avoid high spikes in blood sugar.
Since cherries have a relatively low glycemic index, they are a better fruit choice for people looking to avoid spikes in blood sugar.
There are several components of cherries that make them ideal for obesity prevention. We already discussed that cherries can help with insulin control. Insulin control turns out to be an important factor in obesity control as well!
Also, the anthocyanins in cherries show promise in helping to reduce the size of fat cells. Reduction of fat cell size can help balance body composition and decrease body fat content.
Anthocyanins may also decrease total cholesterol and may help with feelings of satiety.
Satiety is the feeling of fullness. When people have a greater feeling of fullness, they are less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks throughout the day.
As a result, cherries are well-positioned to help prevent obesity and reduce the side effects of obesity when it occurs.
In addition to the wide variety of nutrition benefits cherries provide, they may also help prevent gout.
Gout is a condition in which crystals build up inside of joints. The joints affected by gout can become inflamed and painful. Chronic gout can lead to permanent problems in the joint space.
Gout most often affects the joints in the big toes and knees but can occur in other places in the body as well.
The cause of the formation of these crystals has many factors. However, a diet high in purine-containing foods appears to be a risk factor for developing gout.
Uric acid is a natural product of metabolism. Uric acid forms when something called purine in the food we eat breaks down. Purines naturally exist in high-protein foods. They occur most commonly in high-protein, animal products in particular.
Examples of foods high in purine include:
–Red meat– beef and pork specifically have high purine content
–Shellfish-lobster, mussels, and scallops have higher purine content
–Beer and liquor –malt used in the brewing process results in a high purine content for these drinks
The development of gout symptoms can occur off and on and are often called gout “attacks”. These attacks can recur over and over again during someone’s lifetime. They are often painful and sometimes require medications.
While medications can help treat, and sometimes prevent gout, lifestyle changes are a more permanent solution.
Weight loss and healthy food choices are the cornerstone lifestyle treatments for gout.
Luckily, there appear to be several foods that help prevent gout attacks. Cherries happen to be one of them!
A 2012 study from Arthritis and Rheumatism showed that cherry intake over the course of two days reduced gout attacks by 35%.
How to Eat
Take advantage of fresh cherries while they are in season. You can find them in the produce section and since their season is short, fresh cherries may be found on special displays.
You can eat fresh cherries raw if you wash them first. Just be careful not to eat the pit!
Cherries should be stored in the refrigerator once you get them home to maintain their freshness.
Cherries also come frozen and frozen cherries are usually available year-round. Frozen cherries are a great alternative when they are not in season. Frozen cherries make a great addition to smoothies and sorbets and can also be used in baking!
Cherries are in season during the warmer summer months and while these tasty fruits are packed with flavor, they also provide powerful nutritional benefits!
Cherries have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. They also show promise in helping reduce the risks and side effects of diabetes and obesity.
People suffering from gout may also choose to eat them as they can reduce the risk of gout attacks.
Cherries are super fruits in a small package!