Cherries

Cherries

Cherries Nutritional Profile
Energy value (calories per serving): Low
Protein: Moderate
Fat: Low
Saturated fat: Low
Cholesterol: None
Carbohydrates: High
Fiber: Moderate
Sodium: Low (except for maraschino cherries, which are high in sodium)
Major vitamin contribution: Vitamin A (sour cherries), vitamin C

Major mineral contribution: Potassium

About the Nutrients in Cherries
Cherries have moderate amounts of fiber, insoluble cellulose and lignin in the skin and soluble pectins in the flesh, plus vitamin C.
 

A serving of 10 fresh red sweet cherries has 1 g dietary fiber and 5 mg vitamin C (8 percent of the RDA), but virtually no vitamin A. An equal serving of canned water packed sour cherries has the same amount of fiber, half the vitamin C, plus a bonus: 522 IU vitamin A (10 percent of the RDA for a man, 13 percent of the RDA for a woman).


Like apple seeds and apricot, peach, or plum pits, cherry pits contain amygdalin, a naturally occurring cyanide/sugar compound that breaks down into hydrogen cyanide in the stomach. While accidentally swallowing a cherry pit once in a while is not a serious hazard, cases of human poisoning after eating apple seeds have been reported. NOTE: Some wild cherries are poisonous.

The Most Nutritious Way to Serve Cherries
Sweet cherries can be eaten raw to protect their vitamin C; sour ("cooking'') cherries are more palatable when cooked.

 

Diets That May Restrict or Exclude Cherries

Low-sodium diet (maraschino cherries)

 

Buying Cherries
Look for: Plump, firm, brightly colored cherries with glossy skin whose color may range from pale golden yellow to deep red to almost black, depending on the variety. The stems should be green and fresh, bending easily and snapping back when released.


Avoid: Sticky cherries (they've been damaged and are leaking), red cherries with very pale skin (they're not fully ripe), and bruised cherries whose flesh will be discolored under the bruise.
 

Storing Cherries
Store cherries in the refrigerator to keep them cold and humid, conserving their nutrients and flavor. Cherries are highly perishable; use them as quickly as possible.


Preparing Cherries
Handle cherries with care. When you bruise, peel, or slice a cherry you tear its cell walls, releasing polyphenoloxidase—an enzyme that converts phenols in the cherry into brown compounds that darken the fruit. You can slow this reaction (but not stop it completely) by dipping raw sliced or peeled cherries into an acid solution (lemon juice and water or vinegar and water) or by mixing them with citrus fruits in a fruit salad. Polyphenoloxidase also works more slowly in the cold, but storing sliced or peeled cherries in the refrigerator is much less effective than bathing them in an acid solution.


What Happens When You Cook Cherries
Depending on the variety, cherries get their color from either red anthocyanin pigments or yellow to orange to red carotenoids. The anthocyanins dissolve in water, turn redder in acids and bluish in bases (alkalis). The carotenoids are not affected by heat and do not dissolve in water, which is why cherries do not lose vitamin A when you cook them. Vitamin C, however, is vulnerable to heat.

How Other Kinds of Processing Affect Cherries
Canning and freezing. Canned and frozen cherries contain less vitamin C and vitamin A than fresh cherries. Sweetened canned or frozen cherries contain more sugar than fresh cherries.

 

Candying. Candied cherries are much higher in calories and sugar than fresh cherries. Maraschino cherries contain about twice as many calories per serving as fresh cherries and are high in sodium.

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