Cherries: Properties and Benefits
Among all the fruits cherries are the undisputed queens of the period before the summer. But these exquisite fruits are not only good to taste but contain different therapeutic properties recognized by science. Let’s see what their health benefits are
The cherries, fruits from good diuretic properties, are produced from the tree Prunus avium. The plant belongs to the Rosaceae family and we all know it as the cherry tree.
The cherry plant has been present in the Mediterranean area for about 3.000 years. The first news about it comes from Egypt. It is difficult to establish with certainty the country of origin even if it is thought that very probably the cherry tree comes from Asia.
- Chemical Composition
- Weight Loss
- Free Radicals
- Blood Pressure
The cherry tree blossoms in spring at the same time as the leaves appear. Its appearance, in full bloom, is something lovely for the view. The cherries are divided into 2 distinct species: sweet and sour.
The sweet ones are divided in turn into two subfamilies which are the duracine and the tenerine respectively. The acid ones , on the other hand, are divided into three subfamilies, the marasca cherries, sour cherries and sour cherries.
The maturation period varies according to the type of cherry. However, we can say that almost all of them mature in the period between May and June.
According to scientific research this small fruit provides several health benefits. The American Institute for Cancer has included cherries among the foods that fight cancer. ( 1 )
A review of studies in 2018 summarized all the beneficial properties of cherries. According to the researchers these delicious fruits reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, arthritis symptoms and other benefits. ( 2 )
|Chemical composition for 100 grams of cherries|
|Vitamin A, RAE||mcg||64|
The sugars are divided into glucose, fructose, galactose, maltose and sucrose.
Amino acids: aspartic and glutamic acid, alanine, arginine, cystine, phenylalanine, glycine, isoleucine, histidine, leucine, lysine, methionine, proline, serine, tyrosine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
The cherries contain flavonoids which, as we know, properties very useful in the fight against dangerous free radicals. Furthermore, these fruits play a primary role in the process that slows the aging of the body’s cells.
100 grams of cherries have a heat yield of 63 kcal.
Cherries: Properties and Benefits
Diuretic and Depurative
The fresh cherry has purifying and detoxifying properties, but not only. It is also diuretic and slightly laxative. These properties make the cherry a very useful fruit in case of abdominal swelling.
Thanks to the presence of flavonoids , in combination with vitamins A and C, cherry intake stimulates collagen production. It therefore brings benefits our skin.
A beauty mask prepared by applying crushed cherry pulp to the face, it has revitalizing properties for the skin. To underline the presence of malic acid, which, with its properties, is able to favor the digestion of sugars and liver activity.
We reiterate the important benefits that consumption of cherries brings to the heart and to the circulatory system in general. It has been confirmed, based on experiments carried out in Michigan (USA), that theirs consumption would greatly reduce the percentage of cholesterol in our body thanks to the presence of antioxidants.
They contain dietary fiber that contributes to increasing the sense of satiety once ingested. For this reason they can be used to keep the appetite away and at the same time eat something pleasant that doesn’t have many calories.
A 2009 study in rats showed that these delicious fruits reduce the concentration of fat in the blood. In addition, the blood of rats has shown lower levels of inflammation that are usually linked to heart disease and diabetes. ( 3 )
The researchers concluded that the consumption of cherries or their juice reduces inflammation and the level of fat in the blood. These 2 conditions lead to heart disease and weight gain.
A 2014 study conducted on rats showed results that bode well for future applications in humans and diabetes. A sweet cherry extract was given to 36 diabetic rats for 30 days. At the end of the experiment the rats had a significant drop in blood sugar. ( 4 )
Rich in Antioxidants
They are a fruit rich in pigments that are called anthocyanins. The anthocyanins are the flavonoid polyphenolic compounds concentrated in the skin that have a strong power antioxidant. Scientific studies have shown that anthocyanins act as anti-inflammatory drugs.
Digestion and Constipation
While dietary fiber helps prevent constipation, the acids contained in cherries they promote digestion. Flavonoids stimulate the secretion of gastric juices and bile. Vitamins instead allow a correct absorption of nutrients.
Contrast Free Radicals
The presence of antioxidants is able to counteract the activity of free radicals. This reduces the risk of developing heart-related diseases. To enhance this quality of cherries there are also other polyphenolic flavonoid compounds with antioxidant activity: lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene.
These compounds act as scavengers towards free radicals. They also play a fundamental role in the prevention of certain types of cancer and slow down cellular aging.
A 2012 article published in the American Institute for Cancer Research supports the anticancer properties of these fruits. According to the article these fruits contain a variety of phytochemical compounds that contribute to their antioxidant activity.
The red color of the fruit is due to the presence of anthocyanins which are pigments with powerful antioxidant properties. In addition to anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamic acid and perylyl alcohol are compounds with high antioxidant activity.
In the article, laboratory research has shown that anthocyanins slow tumor growth. In some cases they even cause the death of apoptosis of diseased cells. However, according to the article, perilyl alcohol seems to be able to render harmless cancer agents.
Another study conducted at the University of Michigan suggests that the anthocyanins present in these fruits reduce cellular development in colon cancer in humans. ( 5 )
Antioxidant compounds also have other useful properties for health. Vitamin C, carotenoids and flavonoids are able to potentiate the immune system. Their assumption protects us from infections bacterial, viral and fungal. In particular, the areas that are most protected are the colon, the urinary tract and the intestine.
A study conducted on some marathon runners suggests that the juice extracted from these fruits is effective in preventing infections. ( 6 )
Once again it is the antioxidants present in cherries that play an important role. These compounds protect the eyes from damage caused by free radicals and slow them down cellular aging.
There are thus benefits in preventive terms against macular degeneration, cataracts and infections.
The nutrients present in cherries such as minerals, flavonoids, carotenoids and vitamins protect the cardiovascular system. Their right contribution helps to maintain a correct heart rate.
A 2006 study suggests that consumption of these fruits reduces the levels of inflammatory markers with consequent benefits for the heart. ( 7 )
Research conducted by the University of Michigan argues that these fruits provide cardiovascular benefits and can reduce the risk of stroke. ( 8 )
Still a testimony to the fact that these fruits are good for heart health is a 2015 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. The study suggests that cherry, thanks to its high polyphenol content, can help lower blood pressure. ( 9 )
Brain and Nervous System
Flavonoids and carotenoids are very effective in improving cognitive function. In particular they improve the memory keeping it active. In practice they protect it from the action of free radicals, which is an inevitable condition of aging.
The antioxidant properties of cherries also protect the nervous system from problems related to aging. These fruits can be useful in the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, depression, anxiety and stress.
According to a 2005 study, the phenols present in these small roundish fruits have protective effects on neuronal cells. The study showed that the phenolic compounds, among which also the anthocyanins, protect neuronal cells from oxidative stress and therefore from neurodegeneration. ( 10 )
A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience claims that anthocyanins in cherry can improve memory. ( 11 )
The cherries may also be useful in cases of insomnia. These fruits are in fact one of the few natural sources of melatonin. This compound is responsible for the sleep-wake cycle and reduces body temperature. Recent studies suggest that taking cherries before going to bed encourages and improves the quality of sleep.
A study conducted on 43 volunteers with sleep problems and over 65 years has given positive results. In fact, the consumption of cherries and their juice 30 minutes before bedtime has beneficial effects on the sleep cycle. As the researchers have reported, the effects are not remarked but still, though mildly, the duration of sleep improves. ( 12 )
In recent times, cherries have also been studied by the University of Texas. Their properties and their benefits on sleep have been studied. Also in this case it was confirmed that melatonin, present in cherries in good quantity, has this virtue.
This disorder is caused by an excess of uric acid in the blood. This causes swelling, inflammation and pain. Several researches have shown that eating 2 cups of fresh cherries to the day reduces the rate of uric acid in the blood by 15%.
One small study in particular demonstrated this property by examining 10 healthy women. ( 13 )
Strength and Muscle Recovery
In one study, marathon runners who drank 710 ml of cherry juice in the seven days preceding the race. At the end of the race the riders experienced 3 times less muscle pain than those who had not drunk the juice. ( 14 )
In another study, some runners were given 480 ml of juice in the days preceding the marathon and in the following days. At the end of the experiment the riders reported less damage muscle, less soreness and less inflammation. Muscle recovery was also faster. ( 15 )
In addition, other studies suggest that taking the juice of these fruits can improve muscle strenght. ( 16 )
For children under the age of 3 it is strongly advised against eating this fruit in abundant quantities. At that age, in fact, the laxative effect of cherries could be too strong, something that does not happen in adulthood.
Their consumption is not recommended for people with liver or kidney failure.
It is also advisable not to drink water after eating many cherries, this is because the cherry is a fruit already rich in water per se. Adding another immediately afterwards could cause some problems, even digestive ones.
There are many varieties of cherries , the ones that follow are those that are mostly grown in Italy:
Bigarreu Cherry: it is the earliest as it ripens and is usually found for sale as early as the first half of May.
Cherry Durone: it is a very valuable type of cherry, according to many the best. It has a hard and compact flesh with a particularly sweet and tasty taste, dark color and large dimensions. Ripens at the end of June.
Cherry Ferrovia: they are very common in Puglia and are characterized by a very juicy pulp. They too mature in June.
Cherry Brand: even these cherries, like corns, have a very compact flesh but their color is yellowish red. Due to their characteristics, they are often used for the preparation of preserves (cherries in spirit and in syrup).
Cherry Anella: excellent cherries with a bright red color and crunchy pulp are available from the end of May.
Very often it is said that they are a lucent fruit: this is because they were introduced in Italy by Lucullo.
While we buy them we check that they have a firm consistency and are free of dents. It is important that they still have the peduncle (or stalk) and that it has a bright green color, a symptom of freshness.
The peduncles of the cherries are also used for the preparation of infusions with diuretic properties.
Once washed they can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days. A few more days if they are wrapped in a cloth and then inserted into a bag open at the top.
The cherries, especially acidic variety, appear to be particularly refreshing a fruit and with a good index of satiety.
The darker the cherries are, the better its beneficial effects on health. In fact the intensity of the coloring is due to a greater presence of anthocyanins. The latter are composed of powerful antioxidant properties very useful for health.
Eating cherries also means preventing the oral infections and then the bad breath.
Maraschino, an excellent white-colored liqueur produced mainly in Italy, is obtained from the distillation of this fruit, in particular from the maraschino genus.
Even in cosmetics, we take advantage of the beneficial properties of this fruit to benefit the skin. In fact, its pulp is used as a refreshing agent on irritated skin.
The Latin name Avium, in Italian bird, indicates that the propagation of seeds, the so-called nocciolini, occurs above all by precisely the birds that are very greedy for it.
His wood is also used for the manufacture of furniture and pipes.
Maybe not Everyone Knows That
Did you know that cherries also have a patron saint? It is San Gerardo dei Tintori.
In Japan even cherries are considered a sacred fruit. There is even a custom called Hanami where the Japanese go to the cherry blossom places to admire their beauty.
The kernels of cherries have within them some components that release cyanide when ingested. For this reason the pits should not be broken and swallowed. If instead you happen to ingest a whole kernel, don’t worry because it won’t be digested but it will be expelled with feces.
Cherries: Properties and Benefits
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