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Cherries

19 Aug

Cherries are drupes, or stone fruits, related to plums, peaches and nectarines. It is about 1 inch in diameter. Its color varies from yellow to deep red and even to the point of black. Each fruit contains a seed at its center.

The taste of the cherry fruit is sweet and contains low acidity. These cherries are seasonal fruit and is available from the end of May till early August.

Health Benefits
i) Cherries are particularly beneficial in reducing the risk of colon cancer. In animals studies of mice prone to colon cancer, the addition of cherries to their diet resulted in a reduction in colon tumors and their size. In related studies, cherries also reduced the growth of breast cancer cells.

ii) The anti-oxidants in cherries clean up free radicals, or the unstable molecules responsible for cell damage in the human body. This is believed to slow down the aging process.

iii) Research reveals that the anthocyanin red pigment in cherries helps to reduce inflammation and pain.

iv) The cherry fruit is also credited with reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, on consumption. Research reveals that people who include the fruit as it is or in supplement form in the daily diet display lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

v) A daily cupful has the ability to address and relieve the discomfort associated with arthritis, and gout.

vi) The cherry fruit is low in fat and high in water content. Regular consumption helps to boost energy levels and modify metabolism for effective weight loss. It is also being used as a natural cure for Fibromyalgia Syndrome and certain physiological problems.

vii) High potassium content in cherries controls water retention and aids in the treatment of autoimmune neuro-degenerative ailments and connective tissue diseases.

viii) Cherries are easily available fresh, juiced and canned. Rich servings of the fruit ensure a daily intake of essential iron, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate.

ix) Probably the most important and benefiting attribute of the fruit is its newly discovered ability to help in the weight loss process. The cherry fruit is low in fat and high in water content. Regular consumption helps to boost energy levels and modify metabolism for effective weight loss. The fruit is being tapped for potential fat burn and blood pressure regulation.

Varieties
All varieties of cherries are high in bioflavonoids and antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium and melatonin, and are sodium, fat and cholesterol free. There are two main types of cherries: sweet and sour. Sour cherries are lower in calories and higher in vitamin C and beta carotene than sweet cherries. Cherries are  rich sources of anthocyanins.

The cherry fruit extract contains antioxidant flavanoids and are used in many tablets and capsules. These capsules are used to support the pH levels of the body.

Selection
Buy cherries that have been kept cool and moist, as flavor and texture both suffer at warm temperatures. Good cherries should be large (one inch or more in diameter), glossy, plump, hard and dark-colored for their variety. Buy cherries with stems on — they should be fresh and green. Reject undersized cherries or those that are soft or flabby. Avoid fruit that is bruised or has cuts on the dark surface. If you find many damaged fruits at the market, consider buying cherries somewhere else, as a number of spoiled cherries will start the others to decay. Since the cherry fruit bruises easily, you need to handle them with care.

Storage
Loosely pack unwashed cherries in plastic bags or pour them into a shallow pan in a single layer and cover with plastic wrap to minimize bruising. Store cherries in the refrigerator and cherries in good condition should last up to a week. Check the fruit occasionally and remove the cherries that have gone bad. Wash the fruit before eating. You can freeze cherries by rinsing and draining thoroughly, spreading them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and placing in the freezer overnight. Once the cherries are frozen, transfer them to a heavy plastic bag. The frozen fruit may be kept up to a year.
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