Five Reasons to Bring Home a Bag of Cherries

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - In case you haven’t noticed, we’re at peak cherry season, particularly cherries from the Northwestern United States. Slight climate differences throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Montana ensure that ripe cherries are being harvested from June through August, and typically hit the produce department within two days of being picked.

So why should you pick up a bag Northwest cherries? In addition to being a delicious and fun-to-eat snack, here’s five amazing things cherries can do for your health.

Sleep Better - Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep cycles. According to a study by the University of Texas Health Science Center, eating cherries daily can aid in better sleep. And if you’ve got plans for summer travel, remember that melatonin from cherries may also fight jet lag.

Reduce Pain - Because of their anti-inflammatory benefits, cherries may help reduce your risk of gout attacks and pain from arthritis. Studies show that tart-sweet cherries can even help alleviate post-workout soreness.

Lower Risk of Disease - Cherries are packed with antioxidants called anthocyanins which may help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Studies have shown that eating foods high in anthocyanins can improve cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and blood pressure, ultimately reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and related complications.

Improve Immunity - Like many fruits, cherries are a good source of vitamin C, which may help aid your immune system. Because vitamin C is an antioxidant, it fights damaging free radicals in your body and helps prevent disease. As a bonus, eating foods rich in vitamin C may also help delay aging.

Gut Health - Cherries are good source of fiber, which is extremely important for your digestive health. Eating a handful of cherries, about one cup, provides more than 10 percent of your recommended daily fiber intake. Remember that fiber feeds the good gut bacteria in your digestive tract and a healthy gut biome may help prevent diabetes, heart disease, inflammation and obesity.

Easy Cherry Brie Appetizer
Serves 4
All you need:
8 fresh, pitted dark-sweet cherries
8 (1/2-inch) slices French baguette, toasted
Brie cheese, spreadable
2 cups arugula
All you do:
1. Spread Brie cheese on each piece of toasted baguette. Lay at least 5 leaves of arugula on each piece.
2. Take a pitted cherry and slice it almost in half, allowing the fruit to open, but remain in one piece.
3. Place the cherry on top of the arugula. Repeat with remaining baguette slices. Serve and enjoy!
Source: www.stemlit.com
Per serving (2 baguette slices): calories: 178; carbohydrate: 32g; total fat: 3g; protein: 6g; sodium: 383mg; sugar: 2g.

Cherry Tabbouleh
Serves 4
All you need:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. orange zest
3 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ cups cooked multicolored quinoa
2/3 lb. dark sweet cherries, pitted and halved
1 English cucumber, sliced
¾ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup diced red onion
All you do:
In a small bowl, combine olive oil, orange zest and juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then mix with a whisk until combined.
In a large bowl, combine the quinoa and the dressing. Mix well. Add the cherries, cucumbers, basil and onion to two bowls. Toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Adapted from: www.stemlit.com