We often think of blueberries, acai, gogi berries and the like when we think of superfruits. Exotic little-heard-of fruits tend to get the most publicity. However, cherries have long been a bit overlooked when it comes to their high antioxidant content and qualification as a superfruit powerhouse. A substantial and growing body of scientific research has linked tart cherries to anti-inflammatory benefits, reduced pain from gout and arthritis and an extensive list of heart health benefits. Recent studies even suggest tart cherries can help reduce post-exercise muscle and joint pain.
Health Benefits of Cherries:
Cherries help ease arthritis pain: Cherries have been shown to help relieve arthritic pain due to their anti-inflammatory effect. Swelling, tenderness and inflammation in arthritis is caused by excess uric acid. The USDA conducted and study which found that uric acid can be reduced by as much as 15 percent by eating 2 cups of cherries a day. Eating cherries can also reduce painful inflammation by decreasing the amount of C-reactive protein produced.
Cherries help fight cancer: Cherries get their deep, rich red color from phytonutrients called anthocyanins; powerful antioxidants that help fight cell-damaging free radicals in the body. Cyanidin is a flavonoid from the anthocyanin group found in cherries that helps keep cancerous cells from growing out of control. Cherries ranked 14 in the top 50 foods for antioxidant content per serving.
Cherries help you sleep: Tart cherries contain melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate biorhythms and sleep patterns. Some studies indicate that two tablespoons of tart cherry juice to be as effective as a melatonin supplement. So try some tart cherry juice before bed for a restful sleep.
Cherries and blood pressure: Cherries are an excellent source of potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure by getting rid of the excess sodium in our body, thus it’s a good electrolyte balancer. One cup of cherries has the same amount of potassium as a banana making it a great substitute when you are not in the mood for another banana.
If you’re looking for fresh cherries in the produce section of your grocery store, you’re most likely to find a sweet cherry variety.
However, most of the studied benefits of cherries come from the tart varieties such as Montmorency and Balaton. Tart cherries are available dried, frozen and in juice and concentrate.
Honey-Tart Cherry Salmon with Cherry Salsa
- 1 cup chopped tart cherries (thawed from frozen)
- 1 small red onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 jalapeno, chopped
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp grated ginger salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 lb salmon fillet, cut into four pieces
- 1/4 cup tart cherry juice (may use juice from the frozen cherries)
- 1/4 cup honey
- In a medium bowl, stir together the ingredients for the salsa until well combined.
- Cover and chill until ready to serve.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil or parchment (foil preferred).
- Rinse the salmon fillets under cool water and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Arrange on the baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cherry juice and honey.
- Spread half of the mixture over the salmon fillets, reserving the second half.
- Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes until just about cooked through.
- Drizzle the second half of the tart cherry-honey mixture over the fillets and bake for an additional 2-3 minutes until slightly golden at the edges.
- Serve the salmon fillets on a bed of greens with the tart cherry salsa on top.