Eat Empowered, Healthy Eating Tips, Inflammation

How to Add More Sweet Cherries to Your Diet (and Why You Should)

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In partnership with Northwest Cherry Growers.

Ask Keri: Are sweet cherries healthy?

 

Keri Says: Blueberries, strawberries, avocado. We’re used to eating those superfruits at snack time and throwing them in our smoothies.

But what about delicious sweet cherries?

Fresh Northwest-grown sweet cherries are a truly special fruit: Because of a short season, they’re usually only available nationwide from late June through August. That means you’ve got to get ‘em while they’re fresh—when they’re packed with flavor and likely contain more of the nutrients that make them so healthy.

Sweet cherries are an incredible summer snack on their own; I put a bowl out on the table for the whole family to reach for, no work required. My kids love them to grab throughout the day, and I snack on them at my computer while I’m getting work done as well as during beach days on weekends.

But if you want to really make the most of cherry season, you can also do all kinds of creative things with them in the kitchen. If you freeze them, for example, they turn into the perfect nutrient-dense smoothie ingredient (that lasts way beyond the season). Or you can follow our lead and try a quick pickling technique.

However you decide to eat them, the health benefits are seriously impressive.

The Health Benefits of Sweet Cherries

First of all, cherries contain anthocyanins and quercetin, phytochemicals that belong to one of the most powerful categories of antioxidants called flavonoids. You’ve likely heard of flavonoids because they’re found in other foods touted for their antioxidant superpowers, like dark chocolate, berries, and tea. These antioxidants can help defend your body against free radicals that are associated with cancer risk, skin damage, and more. As a nutritionist, getting people to add more antioxidants to their diet has always been one of my biggest priorities.

Research has also shown that eating cherries is associated with a decrease in markers of inflammation in the blood, and inflammation is at the root of many chronic diseases.

Finally, cherries are a great source of dietary fiber (which most Americans don’t get enough of!), vitamin C, and potassium.

How to Eat Cherries

With those incredible nutrition credentials, it’s clear you should be adding more cherries to your diet. Look for sweet cherries at the grocery store and local markets.

Then, start snacking, baking, and preserving…or get even more creative. One way I love to eat sweet cherries is to pit them and freeze them. Then, in a smoothie paired with greens, protein, and healthy fats, the cherries provide sweetness and added nutrients.

Another favorite technique is pickling. Don’t worry, this isn’t the kind of pickling that takes forever. This simple recipe results in a jar of goodness you keep in your fridge. The sweet-and-savory cherries are then the perfect condiment to serve on yogurt, in tacos, or as a flavor booster on top of chicken, fish, or pork.

I recommend eating them every which way..and then waiting patiently for the start of the following year’s bounty.

 

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