Cherries are a very tasty and nutritious fruit. They contain many vitamins, minerals and compounds which have many health benefits. The word cherry refers to both the tree and the fleshy fruit (drupe) that contains a single stony seed. Cherry belongs to the family Rosaceae, genus Prunus, along with almonds, peaches, plums, apricots and bird cherries.
The cherries selected for eating are derived primarily from two species – the wild cherry, which has given rise to the Sweet Cherry to which most cherry cultivars belong, and the Sour Cherry, used mainly for cooking. Besides fruit, cherries have attractive flowers, and are commonly planted for their flower display in spring. Several Asian cherries are particularly noted for their attractive flowers. The Japanese sakura, in particular, is a national symbol and is celebrated in the yearly Hanami Festival.
Cherries contain anthocyanins, the red pigment in berries, which help reduce pain and inflammation. Anthocyanins are also potent antioxidants. Cherries contain high levels of melatonin. Besides being an anti-oxidant, melatonin has also been shown to be important for the function of the immune system. The skin of the cherries holds most of the essential antioxidants vital to their health benefits. There is considerable interest, at present in the use of fresh cherries or cherry juice to treat gout, a painful, inflammatory condition affecting the joints. Although a good source of vitamins, they are not as high in vitamin C or vitamin A as fruits like strawberries or blackcurrants but its the presence of other antioxidants and compounds that are responsible for the many health benefits of cherries.
Cherries are low in calories, low in fat and contain a high percentage of water.Increasing water consumption will boost energy levels and help increase the metabolism. Many people are discovering the benefits of eating high water fruits like cherries for help in losing weight. Cherries help stimulate the secretion of digestive juices and of the urine and are effective cleansers of the liver and kidneys. Cherries are particularly beneficial in reducing the risk of colon cancer
Cherry tastes sweet and sour. It is used in many deserts, drinks, cookies, cake, pastry, shakes, ice creams, pies, jams and jellies as flavoring. It can be used for gelatin desserts, punch or sherbtet, and has been added as an ascorbic acid supplement to other fruit juices. The fruits may be made into syrup or, with added pectin made into jelly, jam, and other preserves.