Strawberries have just given way to cherries in greengrocers and greengrocers in the country, coinciding with the peak of harvesting this characteristic late spring fruit.
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Spain is a net producer of cherries, which exports to Germany and the United Kingdom mainlybut he is also a big consumer. According to the Ministry of Agriculturein 2021, 18,730 tons were consumed in the state in July alone.
The cherry can ripen on the tree throughout the summer and can be eaten from late April to late August, however it is a non-climacteric fruitwhich does not ripen once cut, so it must be picked ripe and distributed quickly if you want to avoid losing the qualities that we will explain below.
Cherries: ten virtues for health
1. They are good for the heart
Anthocyanins, or anthocyanins, are the compounds that give fruits and vegetables their characteristic dark red color, from plums to blueberries, strawberries, grapes, etc. They are compounds with great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities, so their preventive value against cardiovascular diseases is very high.
A 2011 review from the University of Tucson Arizona established a strong correlation between the consumption of cherries and cardiovascular prevention in people over 40 years of age.
Another study carried out by the Miguel Hernández de Oriola University (Alicante), and published in the magazine food chemistrydiscovered that applying treatments with acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) before harvests improved its preventive qualities in cardiovascular health.
2. Ideal for diabetics
Cherries have eight grams of sugars per 100, which is equivalent to two lumps. Nevertheless, contain almost 2 grams of dietary fiberwhich means that its glycemic load is limited to 22, lower than other fruits and, of course, processed products.
The Spanish Diabetes Federation (FEDE) includes cherries among the recommended fruits and vegetables and remember that the consumption of at least 400 grams of fruit and vegetables is recommended daily.
3. They are rich in beta-carotene
Beta-carotenes or ß-carotenes are another group of important antioxidants. Precursors of vitamin A or retinol, are beta-carotene, of which cherries have 32 µgrams per 100 grams.
They are also present, for example, in carrots and are involved in protection against ultraviolet radiation. They maintain the immune system and help retinol in protecting eye health.
4. They help to eat less
Due to their low sugar content, but also to their negligible fat content, cherries contribute just 48 Kcal per 100 grams to your diet, even less than an apple or a pear, with a more pronounced sweet taste.
But also its almost two grams of dietary fiber and its water content give it great satiating power.
5. They provide vitamin C
Without being among the fruits that provide the most vitamin C, they have 15 milligrams per 100 grams, which gives them significant preventive and antioxidant power if added to the aforementioned anthocyanins and beta-carotene.
6. A source of folic acid
A handful (100 grams) of cherries provides 52 µgrams of folic acid, one of the most important B vitamins, which stands out for its antioxidant properties and is essential for the synthesis of hemoglobin.
In addition, folic acid deficiency is one of the main risks during pregnancy due to its importance in the development of the nervous and cognitive systems of the fetus, so cherries can be part of preventive supplementation.
7. They prevent gout
A cross-sectional study conducted by Boston University in 2012 highlighted that those men prone to gout who frequently consumed cherries had less incidence of attacks at the same amount of protein intake and other characteristic nitrogenous products that cause this disease.
The conclusions were that anti-inflammatory substances such as the aforementioned anthocyanins and other complex compounds were significantly among the causes.
8. They help to fall asleep
They have significant amounts of natural melatonin, a hormone related to entering the sleep cycle. A study from the University of Extremadura observed sleep benefits in a group of people after eating cherries.
The University of China Agriculture, in Beijing, has also studied the concentration of melatonin in cherries, as well as its fluctuations throughout the day. Its authors maintain that melatonin in fruits such as cherries would have a protective function against oxidative stress.
9. They are a natural anti-stress source
Cherries also contain significant amounts of tryptophan (eight milligrams), an amino acid precursor of serotonin, a powerful neurotransmitter involved in improving mood and processes of euphoria and happiness.
Call the cherries by name
It is not the same to speak generically of cherries, picotas or cherries; and yet all three are fruits of the cherry tree. What is the difference between them? In reality, each denomination corresponds to a characteristic type of cherry.
On the one hand, what we usually call “cherries” as a greengrocer product corresponds to most of the cherries that we can buy from late spring to August and it is the most generic denomination that we can find.
However, a distinction is made between commercial cherries: the picota, which is a cherry variety with a denomination of origin in the province of Cáceres, Picota del Jerte. It is a late variety, which can remain on the tree until even September.
The pillory is the most consumed as the summer progresses. It is characterized by its large size and because it is harvested without a stalk. Regarding color, there are different sub-varieties that can range from red wine color to more vivid or intense reds.
The cherry, a cherry that grows on a wild variety of the cherry tree called Prunus Cerasus, is characterized by being small, very red and acid. It is not eaten directly, but in central and northern Europe it is used in confectionery, in syrup preserves or to make distillates such as Croatian maraschino or the bavarian kirschvery famous in their respective areas.
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