As spring continues, we get to enjoy a host of fruits we haven’t seen in a year. Cherry season is upon us, and besides being delicious, they offer a variety of health benefits.
Both sweet and tart cherries contain Vitamin C, melatonin, polyphenols and anthocyanins, along with many other vitamins and minerals. Both human and animal research has shown that the polyphenols and anthocyanins in cherries reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Reducing these can help reduce risk for chronic disease, cancer, and help slow the aging process, keeping our brains and bodies healthier. There is also evidence for cherries to help control gout flare-ups and the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. The melatonin component of cherries, as studied in tart cherry juice, shows promise in assisting with sleep and anxiety.
While much of this research was done with cherry supplements, powders, juice or a high intake of cherries in one day, 45 plus!, consuming cherries, especially when they are in season, is a great way to make sure you are getting some cherry super power! Try fresh cherries as a snack; about 1 cup whole cherries is considered one serving. Don’t forget to watch the pits! Try a refreshing spritz of tart cherry juice in some sparkling or coconut water. If you have never had cherries in a savory dish, try this couscous with cherries and feta as your next lunch or dinner side dish. Enjoy!
Cherry Couscous Salad
- 1 package Israeli couscous
- 1 cup fresh, pitted cherries, cut in half
- Can substitute unsweetened dried cherries or frozen, thawed cherries
- ½ cup fat-free feta cheese crumbles
- 1 cup arugula, washed and chopped
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- You can substitute any nut you enjoy pistachios, pecan and walnut would all be good!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- The juice form one lemon
- Pepper to taste
Cook the couscous per the box instructions. Allow to cool to room temperature or place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Mix in cherries, arugula and feta to the cooled couscous. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and lemon and pour over couscous salad. Mix together. Garnish with pepper and nuts just before servings. Makes enough for 4, with leftovers for lunch!