The cherry is a little stone fruit, also known as a drupe, that comes from the rose family, same as apricots, peaches, and plums. There are two types of cherries: sweet and sour. Among the sweet cherries there are more than 500 varieties with only about fifteen being used commercially in the U.S. Of those fifteen, the most popular is the sweet, dark purple-red Bing cherry, followed by the Lambert cherry, a smaller version of the Bing cherry. The lighter-skinned Rainier cherries are also very popular and even sweeter in taste than the common Bing. The sour cherries are less common as they are too sour to be eaten raw and are therefore usually canned or frozen to be used in pie fillings or sauces.
Cherries are native to the county of Europe and west Asia and were named after ancient Turkish town Cerasus. They were one of the first fruits the early colonists brought to America in the 1600s. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that the first commercial cherry orchard was planted, and by the early 1900s the industry was booming. Today, cherries are grown in most parts of the world, with most of the commercial quantities coming from Europe and then the United States.Much like other berries, cherries are high in flavonoids (antioxidant compounds), particularly two flavonoids called anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins. These give cherries their deep red-purple coloring, and generally speaking, the darker the color of the cherry, the more antioxidants there are and the better it is for you.
These flavonoids are very beneficial to health as they are strong antioxidants that help to prevent and heal inflammation as well as block pain signals. Studies have demonstrated that the anthocyanidins in cherries are able to block the enzymes that signal pain. In all the fruits studied, cherries had the highest amount of these anthocyanidins, with such a strong effect that they were comparable to that of ibuprofen and naproxen, making them a great pain-relieving food. The same researchers found that these anthocyanidins had stronger antioxidant capability than vitamin E, at equal amounts.
Due to the flavonoid content they contain, cherries also make for a great cancer prevention food. Quercetin, one of the nutrients in cherries, has shown an ability to help prevent the growth of colon cancer cells—significant because colon cancer is the third highest cancer both for number of cases as well as number of deaths by.
Tart cherries also have perillyl alcohol (POH), a natural compound that seems to be powerful in helping reduce the incidence of all types of cancer. Research is showing that POH helps to shut down the growth of cancer cells by depriving them of the proteins they need to grow.Cherries also have melatonin, a hormone produced in the brain (specifically, in the pineal gland) that helps to regulate the sleep cycle. Melatonin is also a strong antioxidant. Other fruits, such as bananas, contain some melatonin, but in amounts that are too small to be effective. Cherries contain 0.1–0.3mg of melatonin per serving, capable of helping to induce sleep. The treatment of gout is another benefit of cherries. Gout is a type of arthritis caused by particularly high levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is produced in the liver and enters the blood stream, and under certain circumstances the body can produce too much uric acid. As levels increase, crystals of salt called monosodium urate form; in time these crystals accumulate in the joints causing the inflammation that causes gout. Anthocyanidins again block the enzyme that helps form uric acid, therefore helping prevent gout. Sour cherries are lower in calories than the sweet varieties, at about 58 calories per 100 grams, versus about 70 calories for the same amount of sweet cherries. Sour cherries are also higher in vitamin A than are the sweet varieties. However, both cherry varieties share some of the same health benefits. Both varieties contain flavonoids, which are strong antioxidants in the body that help to prevent cancer, chronic disease, macular degeneration and aging. Furthermore, they both contain melatonin, an important brain chemical that helps bring about feelings of calmness and help regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Both varieties of cherries have a large number of nutrients as well. Sour cherries are a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as copper and manganese. Sweet cherries are a good source of vitamin C and copper. Both varieties are sources for antioxidants and enzymes that help to fight inflammation.
Raw Cherry Cheesecake
What you’ll need
- 21/2+cups (+extra for garnish etc if you like)Fresh pitted Cherries (or blueberries, strawberries etc)
- ~1-1.5 whole lemons (juiced)
- 2 tsp Vanilla
- 1 Cup vanilla almond milk (unsweetened preferrably) OR plain water
- 2 Cups cashews (pre-soaked for 6 hours, rinsed and drained)
- 8 Dates + 1-2tbsp Agave OR 8 tbls Raw Honey OR sweetener of your choice to taste
- 2 Cups almonds (pre-soaked for 6-8 hours preferrably, rinsed and drained)
- 1/2 Cup Dates (un-soaked)
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- Food Processor
- 91/2 inch Pie plate
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