Originating in the Southeastern Europe between Russia and Turkey, sour cherries are one of America's most sought-after fruits, most commonly the Montmorency and Balaton varieties, primarily grown in Michigan, Utah, New York, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. They're generally harvested between mid-June and early July for a year's worth of tart, flavorful goodness, although they're also available dried, frozen, and in juice and juice concentrates.
After picking, sour cherries don't stay fresh for long, which is why they're a rare grocery store commodity. Slightly smaller and a brighter red (due to the flavonoid anthocyanin) next to the larger, deep red of sweet cherries, they're also called pie cherries, and used in jams and tarts. If you find the pucker power too strong, try combining them with milder fruits like strawberries, Bing cherries, peaches, or blueberries.
For more information on cherries, see “The Top Six Reasons Why Cherries are Naturally Good for You.”
Health Benefits of Sour Cherries
It's nice to have sour cherries frozen during summer to use during winter. The amazing thing is frozen sour cherries lose none of the nutritional value. They're chock-full of compounds that stave off inflammation, have antiviral and antibacterial properties, help support heart health, and even fight cancer. Two of these compounds are quercetin and ellagic acid, both shown to inhibit the growth of tumors and kill cancer cells without damaging healthy ones. Perhaps best of all, for all the nutrients they offer, sour cherries are low in calories.
Mentioned earlier, the anthocyanin presence in sour cherries – more than any other fruit – not only gives sour cherries their vibrant pigment, but also reduces inflammation, eases arthritis pain, and may help lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Ingesting sour cherries lowers uric acid levels in the blood, which helps prevent gout. In fact, cherry juice is an excellent natural remedy for gout pain. It's also known as a very good source of melatonin, which may help prevent breast cancer.
The oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), or free radical-zapping strength of sour cherries differs depending on the preparation; one hundred grams of cherry juice concentrate contains 12,800 ORAC, for instance, while frozen cherries contain 2,000. In fact,
sour cherries rank number 14 in antioxidant content among the top 50 foods containing this benefit.
Gallic acid, p-coumaric acid, kaempferol, and quercetin are other compounds in sour cherries. Research indicates they might help reduce muscle and joint pain after exercise, and even diminish problems with insomnia.
These are just a few examples of more than 50 new studies on sour cherries, as scientists continue to reveal new advantages.
However, consume sour cherries in moderation because they contain fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.
Sour Cherry Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
|Calories from Fat
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie
Studies Done on Sour Cherries
Sour cherry seed kernels were used in a study exploring beneficial bioactive properties. Researchers separated the oil from the kernel and found unsaturated fatty acids, oleic acids, tocotrienols, and tocopherols (separate components of vitamin E acting as antioxidants1), among other things. The dried remainder of the kernel was also tested and found to contain polyphenols, flavonoids, vegetable acids, and anthocyaninins, which may have useful therapeutic effects in the prevention of vascular diseases.2
Another study showed that both sour and sweet cherries might play a supportive and/or protective role on neuronal cells due to the fruit's rich phenolic contents, especially due to – again – the anthocyanins, which are slightly higher in the sour variety.3
Sour Cherries Healthy Recipes:
Organic Cherry Juice
|4 ounces milk (or almond milk)
||1 Tbsp. honey
||½ cup of cherries
Using a hand blender, gradually blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Pour into a glass and serve. Mixing it one glass at a time keeps it ultra fresh for the greatest number of nutrients.
This recipe makes four servings.
(From Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type by Dr. Mercola)
Sour Cherries Fun Facts
It takes six to eight pounds of tart cherries to make one pound of dried cherries, and about 100 cherries to make one 8-ounce glass of cherry juice.
Anthocyanin is one of the most powerful compounds in sour cherry because it does so many good things for the body. Research has found that this little flavonoid is responsible for not just the red color of the fruit, but also for reducing inflammation and uric acid levels in the blood to prevent gout, as well as the risk of heart attack, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Cherries have one of the highest amounts of antioxidants of any food, boast antiviral and antibacterial properties, and, with the compounds quercetin and ellagic acid, slow the growth of and kill cancer cells without damaging healthy ones.
Ways to up your intake of sour cherries might include adding them, fresh or frozen, to your favorite recipes. That's eating healthy with a cherry on top.