Summer cherries are just one of a myriad of fruits abounding at the farmer’s market this time of year. Your Food Facts crew really loves cherries, but your blog writer REALLY loves them. That’s because I’m allergic to berries and have an affinity for this small, tasty fruit that doesn’t help me break out in hives! They are tasty to snack on by themselves or to substitute (for me) in recipes requiring berries …. actually they work like a charm. So, if I’m going to be eating that dessert that called for berries they are a great substitute, providing taste and texture without having to completely redo a recipe because the fruit I’m using might have a different water content. So tonight, I wanted to look at the health benefits of cherries.

So here’s what you need to know about cherries and your health:

– Although cherries are very low in calories, they are very rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

– The pigment in cherries that causes their beautiful color are due to polyphenolic flavonoid compounds … or anthocyanin glycosides. That means that fruits with red, purple or blue skins carry these compounds and that their skins have powerful anti-oxidant properties.

– Those anthosyanins act like anti-inflammatory agents in your body. They can have helpful effects against chronic pain associated with gout, arthritis, fibromyalgia and sports injuries. In addition, some (tart) cherries can help to prevent cancers and neurological diseases.

– Cherries contain melatonin. Melatonin can produce soothing effects for the brain and calm nervous system irritability. So if you suffer from headaches, eat cherries. In addition, if you have a hard time falling asleep at night, cherries might help.

– Like many other summer fruits, cherries also provide potassium and manganese. When we sweat in the summer, our body needs to replace these minerals and cherries can help us do that.

– Other great properties of cherries include anti-oxidants. Lutein, beta carotene and others can protect your body from free radicals that might prevent some forms of cancer.
Oh, and if you’re like me, cherries won’t cause hives. Of course I’m sure there are some folks who can eat berries, but cherries can cause hives. We all have our individual food issues (and berries are certainly coming in our Summer Fruits Series).

My favorite cherry dessert is a parfait. After pitting some sweet cherries, I layer a glass with them, alternating between freshly made whipped cream and topping it off with a whole cherry. That’s not a recipe substitution for me. I just love the flavor!

That’s the latest from our Food Facts Summer Fruits Series. Stay tuned for blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, honeydew and maybe a few that aren’t quite that familiar! Let us know about your favorites!