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Choose cherries: more than just a sweet, summertime treat

July 3, 2013
By Katie Wilhelmi , Marshall Independent

Summer screams cherries! These delectable super fruits are not only delicious but provide many health benefits as well. Cherries contain many antioxidants and valuable nutrients that make them a powerful super food. Whether you are fighting pain and inflammation, trying to regulate those sleeps patterns, or wanting to give your brain a little boost, choose this small and flavorful fruit for your next healthy snack!

Why cherries?

Antioxidants: Sweet cherries are considered among the top 20 foods with the highest concentration of antioxidants. Antioxidants occur naturally in some foods and may protect cells in the body from future damage. Cherries have many different antioxidants, including melatonin, quercetin and a flavonoid called anthocyanin.

Heart healthy: Today, heart disease is the single leading cause of death in America. Anthocyanin and quercetin may decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by protecting the heart and preventing plaque formation within the body.

Natural pain and inflammation relief: Do pain and inflammation get you down? We've got great news - a bowl full of cherries may help relieve discomfort related to arthritis and gout. Cherries contain anthocyanins - natural pigments responsible for the red, purple and blue colors of many fruits and vegetables. Cherries act as pain relievers by blocking inflammatory enzymes in the body, which may help to reduce pain.

Bone health: Cherries contain a valuable mineral called boron, which supports bone health and helps to maintain a good calcium balance.

Insomnia: Cherries are one of the few foods that contain melatonin, a natural hormone in the body, which helps control when we fall asleep and wake up. Eating a handful of cherries before bed may be a great, natural way to regulate sleep patterns.

Brain function: Not only does melatonin aid in falling asleep, but it also supports and maintains brain function. Anthocyanins may protect cells found in the brain and promote brain health as well.

Apple, Walnut and Fresh Cherry Quinoa Salad

Serves: 8

Source: Chef Andrew, Ankeny Hy-Vee

All you need:

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, prepared in apple juice

1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

1 cup pitted and quartered fresh cherries

1 large apple, chopped

1 large celery stalk, chopped

2 tbsp. chopped red onion

1 tbsp. honey

2-3 tbsp. white balsamic raspberry blush vinegar

Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

All you do:

1. Prepare quinoa as directed on package, using apple juice in place of water. Cool completely in refrigerator, about 30 minutes.

2. Toss cooled quinoa, walnuts, cherries, apple, celery and onion together in a large bowl.

3. Mix honey and vinegar in a separate bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.**

4. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.

5. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge until serving time.

**Note: If more dressing is desired, double the dressing recipe and toss with the salad.

Nutritional information per serving: 140 calories; 20 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 2 g dietary fiber; 5 g fat; 3 g protein; 0.5 g saturated fat; 10 mg sodium; 12 g sugar; 0 g trans fat; Daily values: 2% vitamin A; 4% vitamin C; 2% calcium; 4% iron.

The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Katie Wilhelmi, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with Hy-Vee.

 
 

 

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