Hy-Vee at Midday: Super-Food Cherries

By Christy Frese, Hy-Vee Dietitian

Cherries are a delicious and nutritious way for your viewers to enjoy healthy eating. Sweet cherries are among the top 20 foods with the highest concentration of antioxidants, making them a super-food for health. Christy Frese, one of your Edgewood Rd. Hy-Vee Registered Dietitians, will educate your audience on the different health benefits of cherries ranging from use as a natural sleep aid to healthy brain function. Christy will also outline all the ways cherries can be a “super” part of a healthy lifestyle.

Why are Cherries a Super-food?

A super-food is defined as one with extremely high concentrations of particularly helpful nutrients called phytonutrients. Phytonutrients function by protecting our bodies from certain diseases and chronic illnesses. A super-food is also generally low in calories (cherries boast only 90 calories in 1 cup), making it a food that ideally could be eaten regularly to get the nutritional benefits. Cherries are rich in antioxidants, fiber (3 g in a 1 cup serving), Vitamin C, potassium (260 mg), iron and boron. They are also naturally fat, cholesterol and sodium free.

Although there is an estimated 1000+ varieties of cherries grown in the United States, one of the favorites is the Rainier cherry. Known for its golden yellow color accented with a rose blush on the skin, the Rainier is often called the “Queen of Cherries”. The Rainier is the largest and sweetest of the cherries. The taste is considered delicate and the flesh is characterized by a firm, but very juicy bite. Rainier cherries are best when they are savored and eaten fresh out of the hand.

Other popular kinds of cherries include the Bing cherry which features an intense red, even mahogany colored skin and flesh. Bing cherries provide a crisp, juicy bite, perfect for snacking. The Lambert is a heart-shaped cherry, smaller than the Bing in size, but equally juicy and flavorful. Van cherries are harvested latest in the season and like the Bing cherry, they have a deep red color and very sweet taste.

Besides tasting great and providing an abundance of nutrients, sweet cherries have been used over the centuries for their medicinal purposes as well. Researchers have confirmed a link with eating sweet cherries and a reduction in pain and inflammation from gout and arthritis due to natural analgesic properties. Cherries also contain melatonin which serves to regulate our sleep cycles, decreasing insomnia. It’s suggested that eating sweet cherries will even help recovery from jet lag!

Great taste plus and an abundance of health benefits? Cherries really are a super-food for every age.

Cherry-Almond Farro Salad

Makes: 6 servings (3/4 cup each)

All You Need:

1 cup farro, rinsed

2 cups water

½ tsp. salt, divided

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp. Hy-Vee Select extra virgin olive oil

¼ tsp. Hy-Vee fresh ground pepper

2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and halved

½ cup diced ricotta salata, or Hy-Vee select feta cheese

¼ cup Hy-Vee slivered almonds, toasted

3 tbsp. finely diced red onion

2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint

All You Do:

1. Combine farro, water and ¼ tsp salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover and cook until the farro is tender, 20-30 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid and fluff with a fork. Spread the farro out on a large rimmed baking sheet to cool for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, oil, pepper and the remaining ¼ tsp salt in a large bowl. Add cherries, ricotta salata (or feta), almonds, onion, mint and the farro. Gently stir to combine.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 277 calories; 13 g fat (3 g sat, 7 g mono); 11 mg cholesterol; 339 mg sodium; 36 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 0 g added sugars; 7 g protein

Source: EatingWell.com

Christy Frese represents Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert working throughout the community to promote healthy eating and nutrition. Christy is a Registered Dietitian and member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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

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