Catch ‘Em While You Can - Tart Cherries by Susan Ojanen
“Catch me if you can!” That’s what tart cherries would say if they could talk.
The Montmorency cherry, the most commonly grown varietal in the U.S. and Canada, is also the most studied for its health benefits. Its ruby-red gems have a short three-week harvest season from late June through July. But not to worry: Although you’ll have to watch closely to purchase fresh cherries, the fruit and its juice are available year-round in canned, frozen, dried, and bottled options.
The sweet-sour flavor is a result of the antioxidants found in Montmorency cherries, which are particularly rich in anthocyanins, quercetin, and melatonin. A study conducted by Boston University researchers found that cherry intake is associated with a lower risk of gout attacks. Another analysis published in the European Journal of Nutrition determined that consumption of tart cherry juice improved both sleep duration and quality.
According to researchers at Oregon Health and Science University, tart cherry juice reduces inflammation markers. It is particularly beneficial in managing osteoarthritis pain at levels similar to common pain medications, without the possible side effects often associated with them. Tart cherries, they stated, have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food.
With such powerhouse health benefits, don’t delay in adding fresh, dried, canned, or frozen cherries to your meals and snacks. If needed, dilute unsweetened tart cherry juice with water for a milder taste.