M. Ali Kaslioglu
Fruits of various kinds in abundance, such as dates in sheathed clusters, bananas piled one above another, grapes, olives, figs, pomegranates, and cherries with their abundant blossom and fruit, are mentioned in the Qur’an. Among many references to the people of happiness and prosperity in the gardens of Paradise in bounty and blessings, the Qur’an draws our attention to the people destined to heaven, who are “amidst cherry trees laden with fruit” (Waqi’ah 56:28). This mention of the cherry alongside various kinds of other fruits in the Qur’an draws our attention not only to the nutritional benefits but also to the medicinal uses of the cherry and its varieties. Recently, there have been studies to find out why cherries improve the quality of life.
Cherries are grown as one of three types: sweet, sour, or wild cherries. Alongside fresh cherry consumption, cherries are also used in juices, jams, jellies, cherry pies, cakes, ice cream, and so on. Cherries are healthful and rich in minerals. A hundred grams of cherry juice contains 246 kilocalories, 58.3 grams of carbohydrate, 3.12 grams of protein, 1 gram fat, 115 milligrams of sodium, 745 milligrams of potassium, 0.5 milligrams of vitamin C, 64 milligrams of calcium, and 81 milligrams of phosphorus. They are rich not only in folic acids, which play a significant role in producing nucleic acids and in the conversion reactions of certain amino acids, but also in potassium, which is needed for osmosis of bodily fluids and acid-base balance. Ripe cherry fruits have been widely used as a traditional medicine to relieve pain, especially in Western Europe and North America.
Cherries as a rich source of antioxidants
Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and other compounds found in foods that can slow down the oxidation process. During the oxidation process that our body goes through in order to metabolize fats and glucose so they can turn into heat and energy, the body constantly produces free radicals as a byproduct of normal metabolism. Antioxidants help prevent the damage done to the body’s cells by such naturally occurring free radicals as super oxides. The super oxide exposure of a person weighing 70 kilograms amounts to about 1.72 kilograms on an annual basis.
Free radicals are unstable substances with missing electrons. They seek to balance themselves by stealing electrons. In constant need of electrons, free radicals take electrons from our healthy cells. Damage to healthy cells caused by free radicals plays a major role in the aging process as well as in the onset of many ailments. Antioxidants provide the electrons that these free radicals need so they can leave the electrons from your healthy cells alone. Protecting the body against free radicals’ mass conversion of cells, antioxidants help reduce the risk of various degenerative diseases caused by free radicals, boost the immune system and improve our health.
God Almighty has created all the cells of the body containing complex systems of antioxidants to prevent chemical damage to the cells’ components by oxidation. Our body is created with an ability to produce metabolic enzymes which are extremely effective antioxidant scavengers. However, the body produces more free radicals and fewer antioxidant enzymes after the late twenties. The All-Providing God has granted us many antioxidant-rich food products that may help us maintain a high quality of life, especially as this ability of the body to generate these enzymes fades dramatically with age.
Ranking above most fruits, cherries are an excellent antioxidant food. There are fourteen compounds in cherries with antioxidant properties. These compounds can protect the body against degenerative diseases, including cancers and cardiovascular disease. One of the more powerful antioxidant compounds in cherries is anthocyanin. In just one liter of cherry juice, there are 267–688 milligrams of anthocyanins that also give the fruit its bright red, red, purple, or violet color.
Recently, as awareness has been raised of most fruit and vegetables having natural antioxidants, and that cherries especially are a rich source of naturally occurring antioxidants, the use of such food products has become more common than synthetic antioxidant supplements.
More health benefits
Cherries offer other major health benefits. They contain the powerful antioxidant compound melatonin, which has anti-inflammatory properties and which controls daily circadian rhythms, helping to improve sleep patterns. Alongside their anti-inflammatory health benefits and improving sleep, they also provide pain relief. Research shows that the consumption of an average of twenty fresh cherries or some cherry juice is much more effective than aspirin in reducing pain caused by inflammation, arthritis or gout.
Cultivation, consumption, and storage
Cherry trees grow in a wide range of climatic conditions and are indeed easy to grow from seed. Once the cherry plant has established, it reaches the fruiting stage in several years.
Cherries can be consumed or stored in a great many ways. Alongside cherries eaten fresh or dried or the juice from the fruits, they can also be used in many dishes, especially desserts, jams, and marmalades. While buying cherries, select fresh, unblemished fruit. Besides consuming cherries as a fresh fruit item, they can also be kept in frozen fruit packs or in cans. Cherries that are to be saved can be stored in the freezer in airtight bags. Canned cherries are also available preserved in sugar syrup. Sweet cherries are particularly used in cakes and puddings. Sour cherries are generally candied or preserved.