Next month is the start of cherry season. Cherries are considered an antioxidant “super fruit” because of all the health benefits they supply. There are two types of cherries: sweet and sour (also called tart or pie cherries). Tart cherries are a rich source of antioxidants, especially a phytochemical called anthocyanin. Studies have shown that tart cherries reduce inflammation and pain and may offer relief for individuals with autoimmune neurodegenerative conditions and connective tissue diseases, especially rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. Evidence also links cherries to reducing risk factors for heart disease and certain cancers.
Cherries contain 19 times more beta carotene than blueberries or strawberries, as well as vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber, and folate.
Cherries are sold with their stems attached because this extends their freshness. When purchasing cherries, choose large, plump cherries and avoid any that are discolored, wrinkled, or mushy. Dried cherries are available in most markets, but stay away from those with added sugar. Store cherries unwashed in a breathable plastic bag inside the fridge. Eat them quickly, as their freshness deteriorates quickly.
Cherries are great in salads, preserves, pies, and dishes that contain pork, lamb, or chicken.