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Cherries: more than just a sweet, summer treat!

July 9, 2013
By Katie Wilhelmi - Dietitian , The Journal

Summer screams cherries! These delectable super fruits are not only delicious, but provide many health benefits as well. Cherries contain many antioxidants and valuable nutrients that make them a powerful super food. Whether you are fighting pain and inflammation, trying to regulate those sleeps patterns, or wanting to give your brain a little boost, choose this small and flavorful fruit for your next healthy snack!

Why Cherries?

Antioxidants: Sweet cherries are considered among the top 20 foods with the highest concentration of antioxidants. Antioxidants occur naturally in some foods and may protect cells in the body from future damage. Cherries have many different antioxidants, including melatonin, quercetin and a flavonoid called anthocyanin.

Article Photos

Cherry, Mango and Avocado Green Salad

Heart healthy: Today, heart disease is the single leading cause of death in America. Anthocyanin and quercetin may decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by protecting the heart and preventing plaque formation within the body.

Natural pain and inflammation relief: Do pain and inflammation get you down? We've got great news a bowl full of cherries may help relieve discomfort related to arthritis and gout. Cherries contain anthocyanins natural pigments responsible for the red, purple and blue colors of many fruits and vegetables. Cherries act as pain relievers by blocking inflammatory enzymes in the body, which may help to reduce pain.

Bone health: Cherries contain a valuable mineral called boron, which supports bone health and helps to maintain a good calcium balance.

Fact Box

Cherry, Mango and Avocado Green Salad

Serves: 8

Source: Stemilt Growers LLC

All You Need:

8 cups mixed salad greens, divided

1 ripe mango, peeled and chopped, divided

1 small, ripe avocado, chopped, divided

cup pitted, sliced Stemilt cherries, divided

cup sliced almonds, divided

Raspberry vinaigrette bottled dressing, to taste*

All You Do:

1. Divide the salad greens among 8 serving plates.

2. Top each with the mango, avocado, sliced cherries and almonds.

3. Drizzle with raspberry vinaigrette.

Nutrition facts per serving: 96 calories; 2 g protein; 10 g carbohydrates; 6 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 1 mg cholesterol; 232 mg sodium; 3 g dietary fiber; 6 g sugar *Note: Nutritional analysis uses reduced-fat-type salad dressing

Individual Cherry-Blueberry Trifles

Serves: 4

Source: Eating Well

All You Need:

1 cups halved pitted fresh cherries, or thawed and drained frozen cherries

1 cups fresh blueberries, or thawed and drained frozen blueberries

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

16 ladyfingers

1 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt

4 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted, divided

All You Do:

1. Toss cherries, blueberries and brown sugar in a medium bowl.

2. Layer 2 ladyfingers, about cup fruit mixture and 2 tablespoons yogurt in each of four 10- to 12-ounce tumblers or other glasses.

3. Repeat with another layer of ladyfingers, fruit and yogurt.

4. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

5. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon almonds just before serving.

Nutrition facts per serving: 236 calories, 4 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 14 mg cholesterol, 30 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 44 g carbohydrate, 9 g protein.

Insomnia: Cherries are one of the few foods that contain melatonin, a natural hormone in the body, which helps control when we fall asleep and wake up. Eating a handful of cherries before bed may be a great, natural way to regulate sleep patterns.

Brain function: Not only does melatonin aid in falling asleep, but it also supports and maintains brain function. Anthocyanins may protect cells found in the brain and promote brain health as well.

Want more than just a handful of cherries? Try one of these easy recipes featuring cherries!

Katie Wilhelmi, RD, LD is a registered dietitian at the New Ulm Hy-Vee Food Store.



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