The fruit has a host of health benefits for the individual who wants to live better, writes Meera Murugesan
IF you have an active lifestyle or are watching your weight, you need food that matches your goals. And when it comes to fruit, cherries should always be on the top of your shopping list.
One cup or about 12 cherries contains less than 100 calories and this, coupled with the fruit’s low Glycemic Index (GI) in comparison to other fruits, makes it a nutritional rock star for those looking to lead a healthy life, want to lose weight or those who work out regularly.
But one of the best kept secrets about this fruit is its anti-inflammatory properties which aid in muscle recovery and reduce muscle soreness after a workout.
This cheery red fruit is packed with antioxidants, Vitamins C and E as well as carotenoids and polyphenols, all of which help quash damaging free radicals and neutralise inflammation in your body.
“Cherries have an amazing consumer appeal as they are juicy and sweet and easy to snack on. More and more people are starting to gain awareness on cherries as a superfood and now it’s a much sought after fruit,” says Julien Andre, fresh produce director of Tesco Stores (Malaysia).
Speaking during the launch of Northwest Cherries at Tesco Kepong, he says Tesco customers can now enjoy the freshest cherries as once the growers pick them, they will be packed and shipped here within 24 hours.
Northwest Cherries, which come from the North-Western states of the USA, have become one of the most sought-after cherries thanks to their sweetness, firmness, and consistency in colour. They will be available till the end of August, when the season ends.
Retna Malar, market representative for Northwest Cherry Growers, says Northwest Cherries are the best selling cherries in Malaysia with over 70 per cent of consumers purchasing the fruit during the season.
“We believe the boost in consumption is also largely in part to recent studies that have unveiled the benefits of this superfruit for overall wellness — making it a perfect, healthy snack after a good workout session,” she says.
Cherries are ranked at the top as the most health protective natural food alongside goji berries and blueberries.
Retna says for those with an active lifestyle, the high anti-inflammatory properties of the fruit not only aid in muscle recovery but also reduce pain and muscle soreness in runners and athletes after workouts, and help reduce inflammation and symptoms of arthritis and gout.
The low GI ranking of cherries means it takes longer to digest the sugar in the fruit and low GI fruits are also ideal for diabetics.
Certified trainer and nutritionist Kevin Zahri says staying healthy is not just about working out but also ensuring that you keep your body well nourished.
Inflammation means the swelling of something, he explains; it can be swelling in your joints, muscles, heart or even brain.
“ The whole body is always under constant stress and stress creates heat and heat creates inflammation so an anti-inflammatory ingredient like the cherry helps reduce swelling and once you have reduction of swelling, the recovery of muscles are better, the veins don’t get stressed so much and the joints are not as swollen as they would be otherwise,” he says.
Cherries also help reduce stress and improve the quality of our sleep.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF FRESH CHERRIES
* Fat free
* Source of Vitamin C
* Natural anti-inflammatory
* Good source of potassium
* Source of melatonin
CHANGES in the biomarkers suggest that consuming sweet cherries may prevent, reduce risks and modify the severity of some critical diseases.
Cardiovascular disease and hypertension
Source: Northwest Cherries
CHERRIES OAT JAR
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup low fat milk
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp wheat germ
3 tbsp mixed nuts
5 large Northwest Cherries (cut into small cubes)
1 tbsp chia seed
2 tbsp dark chocolate shavings
1. Add rolled oats into your jar of choice and pour in low fat milk.
2. Layer in honey, wheat germ, mixed nuts and cherries.
3. Top off with chia seed and dark chocolate shavings for texture.
4. Refrigerate overnight and enjoy in the morning.