Australians can enjoy delicious, sweet, fresh cherries this summer knowing that they are also looking after their health.
A study* commissioned by the Victorian Cherry Association has conclusively concluded that "fresh cherries are indeed very beneficial in maintaining good health". Data from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre on Ageing at Tufts University confirmed sour cherries contained similar or higher amounts of antioxidants compared to blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries. At least one serving of cherries per day is required, with additional servings delivering more benefits. Forget moderation! When it comes to the health impact of cherries, more is better!
Cherries have a unique combination of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds which act together to deliver health benefits not available in supplements. Fresh foods not only retain more of their nutrients than processed foods or supplements, but these act together to naturally provide the body with a more complex and potent mix of the compounds it requires to prevent disease.
Cherries contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins - these belong to a large family of phytonutrients called flavonoids, linked to a vareity of health benefits, and provide cherries with their deep, rich red color. Cherries also provide a good source of potassium and fibre.
Weight Loss and Management
Cherries have only 224 kilojoules (54 calories) per 100 grams and virtually no fat.
Slow Impact of Ageing
Vitamins E and C and the flavonoids found in cherries and other fruits may slow ageing and they may slow or even reverse the symptoms of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Cherries also contain compounds that can help to slow or inhibit the progression of cancer (Polyphenolics Egallic acid and Lignans).
Eating foods rich in antioxidants, such as cherries, may help reduce and neutralise free radicals and slow the signs of skin ageing. Free redicals are believed to be a major contributing factor in the production of wrinkles as they destroy the collagen and elastin network which keeps skin firm and supple.
Antioxidants are necessary to clear the body of damaging free radicals and they are most effectively acquired through diet. If we don't consume enough antioxidants, damage can occur, leading to degeneration and disease including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, cancer, inflammatory conditions and neurological diseases. Sweet cherries contain 16 antioxidants, plus a suite of other compounds with beneficial health benefits.
Cherries may benefit people suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions such as gout, pancreatitis, or prostitis, as well as allergic conditions including asthma, hay fever, eczema and hives because they contain the compounds cyanidin and quercetin.
So cherry lovers can indulge to their heart's content, because the study concluded that cherries have significant health benefits in slowing or inhibiting the progression of cancer, ageing, neurological diseases, cardiovascular disease and inflammatory conditions. They may also aid in detoxification of foreign substances.
(* The Health benefits of Cherries, Charlotte Brunt BSc (Hons) Swinburne University 2004.)