Eating whole, unprocessed foods without additives, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, grains and nuts, should be a way of life. This is the theme of this year’s National Nutrition Week, held in South Africa from 9 to 15 October. One of nature’s most alluring whole foods is surely the cherry, a complete package of flavour, charm and amazing health benefits. And the good news is that local cherry season is just around the corner.
Why are cherries so good for you?
We all know that five portions of fruit and veg a day is what keeps the doctor away. One portion of cherries is around a cup or up to 21 cherries. It’s no hardship to eat this many plump beauties when they’re fresh – and your body will thank you, too. Here’s why.
Cherries help fight diseases and support immune function
Though they’re small and sweet-looking, cherries are actually packed with antioxidants, which fight free radicals in the body. (Free radicals are linked with cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.) One of the better-known of these antioxidants, vitamin C, also helps to support the normal function of the immune system and assists with healing of the skin.
Cherries reduce inflammation
In contrast to this fighting spirit, cherries can also have a soothing side. Two of the kinds of antioxidants found in cherries, anthocyanins and cyanidin, have shown to possess anti-inflammatory effects. That means a bowl of fresh cherries could be useful in managing arthritis, gout and joint pain – not to mention cheering up anyone who’s sore.
Cherries can help you sleep better
Giving Sleeping Beauty a run for her title, cherries can help with shut-eye because they contain melatonin, the hormone that helps control sleep-wake cycles. Sleep research has found that tart cherry juice improves sleep both in quality and duration, and may help those who suffer from insomnia.
Cherries are low GI
The Glycemic Index (GI) measures how much a food boosts blood-glucose levels; a score of 55 or less is considered to be low. With a score of only 22, sour cherries rank lower than almost all other fruit, including apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, peaches, pears and watermelon, making these bonbons ideal for diabetics and those who are watching their sugar intake.
If nothing else, 2020 has shown us there’s no better time to look after your health. Retha Harmse, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa), says eating a balanced diet plays an important role in maintaining health, and supporting the immune system and all the body’s vital systems.
So make sure you put ruby-red Cherry Time cherries on your shopping list this harvest season, which starts on 2 November. Look out for fresh Cherry Time in selected PnP stores or have them delivered right to your door if you live in the Western Cape. Order yours before they disappear on CherryTime.co.za.