Cherry is a small, mushy, round stone fruit. It is usually in a variety of colours ranging from yellow to very dark red and also in different flavours ranging from sweet or tart.
Cherry fruits grow from various plants classified in the genus Prunus. A genus characterized by trees and shrubs. Fruits such as apricots, peaches, and nectarines also belong to the Prunus genus. Various forms of the genus Prunus produce cherry fruits, which include;
Prunus Serrulata: Also known as blossom cherry, it is distinguished by its reddish-brown colour, and lanceolate to ovate dark green leaves.
Prunus Cerasus: This genus of Prunus is characterized by the serrated edges of its dark green leaves, and its ability to produce white flowers and dark red to black edible fruits.
Prunus Avium: This is similar to that of the Prunus Cerasus and its ripened fruits are more edible compared to the tarts or sour fruits from its tree.
Cherries tend to thrive in well-drained loam soil with excellent air circulation. It takes a span of 4 to 5 years for a cherry tree to reach maturity and production of its fruits.
There are certain countries with a high production of cherry fruits few of which include Turkey, the United States, Russia, Iran, and Uzbekistan – due to their cold climatic condition and well-drained soils whose PH ranges from 6.0 to 7.5. Just like every other fruit, cherry has got its season of growth. It should be noted that the precise season for the growth of cherries
depends on where you live but on average, research has it that cherries are best grown between mid-May to July and the picking season begins towards August. Cherries exist in different types with differences ranging from its colour to taste, sweet or tart.
Sweet Cherry: These types of cherries are dark red. They are also a great snack with a fresh, sweet taste.
Yellow Cherry: Despite being ready to be eaten, the yellow cherry gets mistaken to be unripe due to its yellow colour. Although the yellow cherries are not as sweet as the sweet cherries, nevertheless, they still possess the characteristics of some sweetness.
Sour Cherry: The bright colour of this cherry deceives it from its sour taste. Additionally, this cherry is best used for pre-baking.
Rainier Cherry: This kind of cherry got its name from the fact that they are grown in Mount Rainier in Washington State. They are red with traces of yellow patterns on them. It has a quite sweet taste and they are great for making the salad.
Santina Cherry: They are known for their not easy-to-crack characteristics; this quality gives them the greater advantage of being able to be preserved. Santina cherries are flattened in shape, sweet and juicy.
Bing Cherry: These are the most famous cherries in the world. They have dark red colours, which could appear darker as it ripen more, and they have a sweet taste.
Nutrients we can get from cherries
Cherry is not exempted from the provision of nourishment essential for the maintenance of life and growth. Cherry contains various nutrients which are of great health benefits. The nutrients contained in cherry fruits include.
Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid): It is one of the most essential vitamins that should be included in our daily diet. Vitamin C is found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is not stored in the body for future use; therefore, it needs to be obtained from our daily diets. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that plays a role in preventing the cells from free radicals that could cause heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Vitamin C promotes healthy skin and hastens wound healing. It is expected for adults between the ages of 19 to 64 to consume 40 mg of Vitamin C per day. Lack of Vitamin C in the body results in a disease called scurvy, which is characterized by swollen bleeding gum and the opening of previously healed wounds.
Dietary Fibre: This is plant-derived food that cannot be broken down completely. Dietary fibre is suitable for weight control. It also helps in digestion and the prevention of constipation. They can be found in fruits, cereal, and vegetables.
Carbohydrates: Cherry contains 25 grams of carbohydrates. In this case, cherry should be consumed in moderation as it contains natural sugars and they can impact your blood sugar.
Iron: Cherry contains 0.5 mg of iron, which is needed for the production of haemoglobin – a red protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood of vertebrates.
Calories: A 150-gram serving of cherries contains 95 mg of calories which are essential for the release of energy in the body.
Potassium: A serving size of 140 grams or a cup of cherry has 270 mg of potassium. Potassium helps to regulate fluid balance and ensures the proper functioning of muscles and nerves.
Ways to use & include cherries in our health
Cherries can be easily incorporated into your diet as the various types of cherries can cater to different usages. Tart cherries are used alongside other recipes in making juice, cooking, and baking. The sweet cherries that are purchased from the stores can be enjoyed as a sweet snack. Cherries can also be used in making fruit salads and desserts.
The importance of cherries is not limited to their usage as a recipe alone. Cherries are also beneficial to health. Here are the benefits of cherries.
- Improving heart health
The presence of the nutrients potassium and antioxidants in cherry helps to lower the risk of heart disease. Cherries also help to maintain a regular heartbeat and regulate your blood pressure.
- Management of gout
Gout is a form of arthritis whose symptoms include severe pain, redness, and swelling in joints. Anti-inflammatory medications help to relieve pains that arise as a result of gout. The anti-inflammatory characteristics exhibited by cherry can be used to inhibit the oxidative stress caused by gout and also decrease its inflammation by suppressing inflammatory proteins.
Consumption of cherries also helps to lessen gout attacks.
- Improving sleep quality
Cherry contains melatonin, a hormone in the body that is involved with sleep. Melatonin is produced in response to darkness. Therefore, melatonin secretion is decreased during the day and increased during the night. Intake of a melatonin-containing diet such as cherry helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
How many cherries are enough for consumption?
A cup of cherry contains 3 grams of fibre. Excessive consumption of fibre or fibre-containing foods can result in intestinal gas, bloating, and diarrhoea. Therefore it is recommended to take not more than one cup of fresh cherries a day.
It should also be noted that a high intake of sugar-containing foods may lead to a high level of blood sugar. Cherry fruit is a kind of fruit containing natural sugar. One of its nutritional values such as carbohydrates, of about 25 mg has sugar and starch as its end product. All of this should be put into consideration when consuming cherry so as not to jeopardize your blood sugar level. Experts and various researchers have made it known that the consumption of a cup of cherry or less per day will be great to prevent any side effects.
There are also cases whereby certain individuals can't have as much as a cup of cherry without certain complications such as constipation, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and intestinal gas. Inthis case, consume cherries in moderation and know your limit. For example, if a person can consume half a cup of cherries without the above complications occurring, they should consider sticking to that rate of consumption.
Side effects of cherry consumption
The common side effects associated with the consumption of cherry include abdominal pain, bloating, intestinal gas, diarrhoea, and constipation. These are a result of your stomach being unable to accommodate the excess consumption of cherries. Another side effect that could occur from the consumption of cherry is indigestion.
Cherries are fruits containing salicylates, a natural chemical found in fruits and vegetables used to relieve pain and inflammation. Individuals that are sensitive to salicylates are said to be salicylate intolerant. This is characterized by gastric upset, inflammation of the large intestine, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea. In severe cases, there could be fever, hives, and tissue swelling.
Frequently asked questions
How many cherry fruits can a cherry tree produce?
At its inception, the cherry tree begins bearing fruit in its fourth year. Cherry trees can produce 30 to 50 quarts of cherries in a year.
Where is the best place to preserve cherries?
The taste and nutrients of cherries begin to deteriorate if kept at room temperature after harvesting. However, they can be preserved for a longer duration of 5 to 7 days if kept in the refrigerator.
Cherry is a type of fruit that comes in various flavours and colours. They are used in culinary and provide great health benefits such as the management of gout, improved sleep quality, and improved heart health. They are best grown in an environment with a PH of 6.0 to 7.5. Excess consumption of cherry fruit could result in abdominal pain, intestinal gas, bloating, and constipation.
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