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More than just a summertime treat

Published 5:03pm Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer screams cherries.

These delectable super fruits are not only delicious, but provide several health benefits as well.

Cherries contain many antioxidants and valuable nutrients that make them a powerful super food. Whether you are fighting pain and inflammation, trying to regulate those sleeps patterns, or wanting to give your brain a little boost, choose this small and flavorful fruit for your next healthy snack.

 Why Cherries?

Antioxidants: Sweet cherries are considered among the top 20 foods with the highest concentration of antioxidants. Antioxidants occur naturally in some foods and may protect cells in the body from future damage. Cherries have many different antioxidants, including melatonin, quercetin and a flavonoid called anthocyanin.

Heart-healthy: Today, heart disease is the single leading cause of death in America for both men and women. Anthocyanin and quercetin, two antioxidants found in cherries, may decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by protecting the heart and preventing plaque formation within the body.

Natural pain and inflammation relief:  Cherries have been found to have pain-reducing effects similar to those of anti-inflammatory medication like aspirin.

According to David Grotto, registered dietitian and author of “The Best Things You Can Eat,” a good amount of scientific research has been done to support cherries’ role in helping to relive painful inflammatory conditions like post-exercise muscle pain, heart disease and gouty arthritis.

This is believed to be because of cherries’ red color, provided by a phytochemical called anthocyanin, naturally found in cherries.

Bone health: Cherries contain a valuable mineral called boron, which supports bone health and helps to maintain a good calcium balance.

Insomnia: Cherries are one of the few foods that contain melatonin, a natural hormone in the body, which helps control when we fall asleep and wake up. Eating a handful of cherries before bed may be a great, natural way to regulate sleep patterns.

Brain function: Not only does melatonin aid in falling asleep, but it also supports and maintains brain function. Anthocyanins may protect cells found in the brain and promote brain health as well.

Apple, walnut and fresh cherry quinoa salad

Serves 8 (1 cup each)

Source: Chef Andrew Ankeny, Hy-Vee

All You Need

•½ cup uncooked quinoa, prepared in apple juice

•½ cup chopped, toasted walnuts

•1 cup pitted and quartered fresh cherries

•1 large apple, chopped

•1 large celery stalk, chopped

•2 tbsp. chopped red onion

•1 tbsp. honey

•2-3 tbsp. Hy-Vee White Balsamic Raspberry Blush Vinegar

•Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

All You Do

1. Prepare quinoa as directed on package, using Hy-Vee apple juice in place of water. Cool completely in refrigerator, about 30 minutes.

2. Toss cooled quinoa, walnuts, cherries, apple, celery and onion together in a large bowl.

3. Mix Hy-Vee honey and vinegar in a separate bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.**

4. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.

5. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge until serving time.

*Note: If more dressing is desired, double the dressing recipe and toss with the salad.

Nutritional information per serving: 140 calories; 20 g carbohydrates; 0 mg cholesterol; 2 g dietary fiber; 5 g fat; 3 g protein; 0.5 g saturated fat; 10 mg sodium; 12 g sugar; 0 g trans fat; Daily values: 2% vitamin A; 4% vitamin C; 2% calcium; 4% iron.

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