That sweet cherry, flaunting its crimson or rosy blushed skin, has some secrets.

On a nutrition panel, the health benefits are not so obvious.  A cup of whole, sweet cherries is about 87 calories with 18 grams of sugar.  The only vitamin it’s notable in is vitamin C, providing 16% of the daily recommended value.

But surely those easy to eat, bite sized jewels are worthy of our snacking. They are a whole food, delivered to us in a tidy, tasty package.

In addition to being a whole food, however, there are some secret health benefits of cherries that are being revealed in the lab.

Cancer Fighting Cherries

There are several cancer fighting agents in cherries.

Quercetin – Researchers have found the flavonoid quercetin to be a potent anticancer agent.

Ellagic Acid – This naturally occurring phenolic has been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors.  The American Cancer Society says that ellagic acid causes the death of cancer cells in the lab.

Perillyl Alcohol (POH) – Scientists don’t know exactly how it works, but perillyl alcohol and its metabolites inhibits tumor growth (pancreatic, stomach, colon, skin and liver) in animals.

Anthocyanins – May significantly reduce your risk of colon cancer.

Nature’s Ibuprofen

The anthocyanins in cherry juice help reduce inflammation in the body.  They’re like natural COX-2 inhibitors, without the side effects.  One study showed the COX inhibitory activity of anthocyanins from cherries to be comparable to ibuprofen or naproxen.

Relief for Gout

Those suffering from gout can benefit from eating cherries.  A study conducted at the University of California-Davis showed that eating a serving of cherries daily lowered the blood uric acid levels of women by as much as 15 percent.

Because of its anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory effects enjoy moderate amounts of fresh cherries while they’re in season.   If you want to get the health benefits of cherries year round, without as much sugar, you might consider a tart cherry juice concentrate.

Sweet Cherry Recipe Roundup

Enjoy one of these sweet cherry recipes before they’re gone:

Fresh Cherry Cheesecake Bars

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Cherries and Shallots

Total Health Booster (Smoothie)

Stone Fruit Salad with Toasted Almonds

Cherry Crisp

Sparkling Sangria

What is your favorite way to enjoy cherries?  Share you comments below.

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