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Cherries have recently been termed a "super fruit" due to their overwhelming nutritional benefits. Research has shown that cherries provide many health benefits due in large part to their high levels of antioxidants. Cherries are convenient to store and enjoy all year long.
There are two types of cherries -- sweet cherries, which are most commonly seen at the grocery store, and tart cherries, also known as sour cherries. Cherries contain beta carotene, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, fiber, and potassium, along with a very high concentration of antioxidants. Tart cherries have more vitamin C and beta carotene with fewer calories, so they are recommended most often for the health benefits of cherries, though both provide nutritional benefit.
One of the main health benefits of cherries is emerging research that shows cherries can help to prevent some cancers. This is because of the antioxidants found in cherries; these are made up of anthocyanins and quercetin, which are flavonoids, and the phenolic acid amygdalin. Cherries have also been shown to reduce pain and inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
Some researchers cite other health benefits of cherries. These include the ability to help promote weight loss, prevent diabetes and heart disease, lower cholesterol, and even help regulate sleep and prevent memory loss. Many people greatly enjoy the taste of cherries, and find they make a great snack in the afternoon rather than greasy chips or a sugary candy bar because they provide a natural boost of energy.
The health benefits of cherries can be gleaned from consuming the fruit in many different forms. Cherries can be eaten fresh, or they can be made into a juice. Cherries can also be frozen, dried or canned, and still retain much of their inherent nutritional value. Cherries will stay fresh for about a week in the refrigerator and a up to a year in the freezer.
It is easy to add cherries into your everyday eating habits. You might drink a glass of cherry juice with breakfast, or add some cherries into your morning cereal or oatmeal. Try adding cherries to salad or yogurt for lunch, or snack on them right out of the bag. Putting them in your child's lunch box is another good idea, but you will probably want to chop them up and remove the pit so they are easier to eat and don't create a choking hazard. If you enjoy trail mix, adding dried cherries can sweeten it up. It is not difficult to find ways to incorporate cherries into your everyday life.