YAKIMA, Wash., May 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- As the heat of summer approaches, cool fresh Northwest cherries will be there to greet it, offering sweet relief to those wanting to eat healthfully and seasonally.
Thanks to this year's unseasonably warm spring in the Northwest, cherry growers are reporting that both their dark red and yellow-blushed sweet cherries are arriving early – giving everyone a chance to enjoy both the flavor and anti-inflammatory benefits of these powerful little fruits.
Not only are cherries an irresistible summertime treat, but recent research also suggests that they may reduce the risk or modify the severity of chronic diseases. Acting to "cool" inflammation, cherries may be beneficial in combating arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, blood pressure and cancer.
Researchers found that consuming about 45 (280 g) cherries daily may significantly decrease circulating concentrations of specific inflammatory biomarkers in the body. The research study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, was conducted at the USDA-ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center. Because of the link between inflammatory markers and some chronic diseases, the changes in the identified biomarkers suggest that consuming cherries may reduce risk or modify the severity of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Cherries are high in phenolic compounds, specifically anthocyanins, which give them their deep ruby color and have been shown to fight inflammation (1). Cherries are also a good source of vitamin C and fiber, and are a natural source of melatonin, a compound which helps regulate the body's sleep cycle.
"Cherries bring more to the table than just great flavor; they also have potent anti-inflammatory effects as well as other nutritional benefits. Grabbing a handful of cherries as a snack or adding them to smoothies or salads is an easy, healthful step that anyone can take," Says James Michael, Vice President of Marketing for the Northwest Cherry Growers.
Cherries will soon be arriving at markets across the country, but this year's cherry crop isn't expected to be as big as last year's large crop – so cherry fans will have to make haste in order to get some for themselves. The season will wind down in late July, but to extend the flavor and health benefits even longer, Michael suggests freezing them. "Or simply enjoy them straight from the freezer," he continued. "What better way is there to beat the heat, inside or out." For creative recipe ideas and tips on preserving sweet cherries, visit www.nwcherries.com.
1. Seeram, N.P., et al. "Cyclooxygenase inhibitory and antioxidant cyaniding glycosides in cherries and berries." Phytomedicine, Sept, 2001.
About Northwest Cherries
Founded in 1947, the Northwest Cherry Growers is a grower's organization funded solely by self-imposed fruit assessments used to increase awareness and consumption of regionally-grown stone fruits. The organization is dedicated to the promotion, education, market development, and research of stone fruits from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana orchards. For more information, visit www.nwcherries.com.
SOURCE Northwest Cherries