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Cherries are not only good for you, but they’re also on trend as a homegrown “Super Fruit.” According to recent data, more than 9 out of 10 Americans want to know where their food comes from, nearly 80 percent say they’re purchasing “locally produced” products, and the majority is defining “local” as grown in America.1,2 And cherries deliver.

A growing body of science reveals tart cherries, enjoyed as either dried, frozen cherries or cherry juice, have among the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants, when compared to other fruits. They also contain other important nutrients such as beta carotene (19 times more than blueberries or strawberries) vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate.

Emerging evidence links cherries to many important health benefits – from helping to ease the pain of arthritis and gout, to reducing risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Cherries also contain melatonin, which has been found to help regulate the body’s natural sleep patterns, aid with jet lag, prevent memory loss and delay the aging process.

A recent study from the University of Michigan reveals new evidence linking cherries to heart health benefits. The study found that a cherry-enriched diet lowered total weight, body fat (especially the important “belly” fat), inflammation and cholesterol-all risk factors associated with heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, being overweight or obese, in particular when the weight is concentrated in the middle, is a major risk factor for heart disease. As nearly two out of three Americans are overweight, emerging studies like this are important in examining the role diet may play in disease management and prevention.

Click on Cardiovascular/Heart Health for more information on the role cherries may play in reducing inflammation and risk factors associated with heart disease.

While there’s no established guideline yet on how many cherries it takes to reap the benefits, experts suggest that 1-2 servings of cherries daily can help provide some of the health benefits identified in the research. Single serving size examples include:
• 1/2 cup dried
• 1 cup frozen
• 1 cup juice
• 1 ounce (or 2 Tbsp) juice concentrate

For additional information on serving sizes and tips to meet daily requirements for fruits and vegetables, visit:

1: Survey conducted by IRI Data, 2008
2: Survey conducted by The Hartman Group, 2008



Health Benefits of Cherries :

a. Cherries red pigment is called anthocyanins, this pigment has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation.

b. Cherry Anthocyanins are also a powerful antioxidant.

c. Cherries help stimulate the secretion of digestive juices and of the urine and are effective cleansers of the liver and kidneys.

d. Eating large quantities of cherries, from one half pound and up daily, has been found to bring relief to patients with gout, a disease that is characterized by an excess of uric acid in the blood and attacks of arthritis.

e. Cherry also contain a high level of melatonin, is a substance that is important in the immune system function. Study shown that people who experience heart attack have low melatonin levels.

f. May help prevent cancer in organs and glands with epithelial tissue due to its high Vitamin A content.

g. Cherries is also helpful in the following cases ; Anemia, Colds (runny nose), Obesity, Cramps, Intestinal worm, High blood Pressure, Rheumatism, Asthma

Nutritive Values : Per 100 gm.

  • Vitamin A : 620 I.U.
  • Vitamin B : Thiamine .05 mg.;
  • Riboflavin : .06 mg.;
  • Niacin : .4 mg.
  • Vitamin C : 8 mg.
  • Calcium : 18 mg.
  • Iron : .4 mg.
  • Phosphorus : 20 mg.
  • Fat : .5 gm.
  • Carbohydrates : 14.8 gm.
  • Protein : .5 gm.
  • Calories : 61

Health benefits of Cherries:

There are a number of health benefits associated with the cherry fruit. Among the many wellness promoting attributes of the fruit, the main ones include:

  • Cherry is being researched upon extensively in the human battle against cancer. Research, so far, reveals that consumption of the fruit is especially beneficial in fighting organ cancers.
  • The anti-oxidants in cherries clean up free radicals, or the unstable molecules responsible for cell damage in the human body. This is believed to slow down the aging process.
  • Research reveals that the anthocyanin red pigment in cherries helps to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • The cherry fruit is also credited with reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, on consumption. Research reveals that people who include the fruit as it is or in supplement form in the daily diet display lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • A daily cupful has the ability to address and relieve the discomfort associated with arthritis, and gout.
  • The cherry fruit is low in fat and high in water content. Regular consumption helps to boost energy levels and modify metabolism for effective weight loss. It is also being used as a natural cure for Fibromyalgia Syndrome and certain physiological problems.
  • High potassium content in cherries controls water retention and aids in the treatment of autoimmune neuro-degenerative ailments and connective tissue diseases.
  • Cherries are easily available fresh, juiced and canned. Rich servings of the fruit ensures a daily intake of essential iron, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and folate.
  • Probably the most important and benefiting attribute of the fruit is its newly discovered ability to help in the weight loss process. The cherry fruit is low in fat and high in water content. Regular consumption helps to boost energy levels and modify metabolism for effective weight loss. The fruit is being tapped for potential fat burn and blood pressure regulation.

By Gaynor Borade
Published: 4/15/2009

See also:

We’re told that an apple a day keeps the  doctor away, but what exactly are the health benefits of apples? Here are ten reasons to heed the advice of that old proverb.

Bone Protection

French researchers found that a flavanoid called phloridzin that is found only in apples may protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis and may also increase bone density. Boron, another ingredient in apples, also strengthens bones.

Asthma Help
One recent study shows that children with asthma who drank apple juice on a daily basis suffered from less wheezing than children who drank apple juice only once per month. Another study showed that children born to women who eat a lot of apples during pregnancy have lower rates of asthma than children whose mothers ate few apples.

Alzheimer’s Prevention
A study on mice at Cornell University found that the quercetin in apples may protect brain cells from the kind of free radical damage that may lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Lower Cholesterol
The pectin in apples lowers LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. People who eat two apples per day may lower their cholesterol by as much as 16 percent.

Lung Cancer Prevention
According to a study of 10,000 people, those who ate the most apples had a 50 percent lower risk of developing lung cancer. Researchers believe this is due to the high levels of the flavonoids quercetin and naringin in apples.

Breast Cancer Prevention
A Cornell University study found that rats who ate one apple per day reduced their risk of breast cancer by 17 percent. Rats fed three apples per day reduced their risk by 39 percent and those fed six apples per day reduced their risk by 44 percent.

Colon Cancer Prevention
One study found that rats fed an extract from apple skins had a 43 percent lower risk of colon cancer. Other research shows that the pectin in apples reduces the risk of colon cancer and helps maintain a healthy digestive tract.

Liver Cancer Prevention
Research found that rats fed an extract from apple skins had a 57 percent lower risk of liver cancer.

Diabetes Management
The pectin in apples supplies galacturonic acid to the body which lowers the body’s need for insulin and may help in the management of diabetes.

Weight Loss
A Brazilian study found that women who ate three apples or pears per day lost more weight while dieting than women who did not eat fruit while dieting.



By Dr Tee E Siong

THE choices we make about what we eat, drink and how active we are each day will together provide us important protection against cancer at all times of life, from childhood to old age.

I have been writing on the prevention of cancer in this column. I have been relying on the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) expert report on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer, released in November 2007 to convey to readers the important message of the prevention of cancers.

This week, we look at the fourth WCRF recommendation: eat mostly foods of plant origin.

What is the link to cancer?

The WCRF Expert Panel identified several reasons why these plant foods may protect against cancer.

-They contain various vitamins and minerals which help keep the body healthy and strengthen our immune system

-They are also good sources of substances like phytochemicals. These are biological active compounds, which can help to protect cells in the body from damage that can lead to cancer.

-Plant foods contain dietary fibre. Foods containing fibre are also linked to a reduced risk of cancer. Fibre is thought to have many benefits, including helping to speed up “gut transit time” , i.e. how long it takes food to move through the digestive system.

-Plant foods can also help us to maintain healthy weight because many of them are less energy dense.

WCRF recommendations

The recommendation of WCRF is therefore: eat mostly foods of plant origin.

The public health goals, which are for populations and are therefore principally for health professionals are:

-Population average consumption of non-starchy vegetables and of fruits to be at least 600 g daily

-Relatively unprocessed cereals (grains) and/or pulses (legumes), and other foods that are a natural source of dietary fibre, to contribute to a population average of at least 25 g non-starch polysaccharide daily

The personal recommendations, meant for people, as communities, families, and individuals are:

-Eat at least five portions/servings (at least 400 g) of a variety of non-starchy vegetables and of fruits every day

-Eat relatively unprocessed cereals (grains) and/or pulses (legumes) with every meal

-Limit refined starchy foods

-People who consume starchy roots or tubers as staples are also to ensure intake of sufficient non-starchy vegetables, fruits, and pulses (legumes)

These goals and recommendations are broadly similar to those that have been issued by other international and national authoritative organisations. These recommendations are not just for reducing risk to cancers, but for a variety of diet-related chronic diseases.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables supply a variety of nutrients. Some are especially abundant in vitamin A and C, and most contain dietary fibre. Some good sources of beta-carotene, which are precursors of vitamin A, are dark green leafy vegetables such as sawi, spinach, cekor manis, kangkong and kai-lan; fruit and root vegetables such as tomatoes, bell peppers, sweet potato and carrots. Fruits like mango, papaya and watermelon are also rich sources.

Some rich sources of vitamin C are guava, cashew apple, papaya, mango, starfruit and oranges.

Many green vegetables also contain folate. Other sources of folate are peas, okra and sweet corn. Oranges, orange juice, pineapple juice and plantain also contain folate.

Fruits and vegetables are placed at level two of the Malaysian Food Guide Pyramid. The MDG recommends “eating more” fruits and vegetables, with at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. A serving of fruit can be a small to medium orange or apple; a medium-sized banana or 1/2 a medium-sized guava. A serving of vegetable equals 1/2 cup cooked dark green leafy vegetables with edible stems or 1/2 cup cooked fruit vegetable (eg tomatoes) or root vegetable (eg carrots)

Cereal grains and legumes

Cereals (grains) are the seeds and energy stores of cultivated grasses. The main types are rice, wheat, maize (corn), oats, barley and sorghum. The major nutrient in cereal is starch; they are therefore an economical source of energy. Cereals are also a fair source of proteins in the diet. The nutritive value of cereal protein can be improved by combining with milk, meat or legumes.

Many of the grains that we consume today are refined. However, during the refining process, e.g. polishing of rice and refining of wheat, important nutrients are removed, particularly dietary fibre, oil, B vitamins and protein. It is therefore strongly recommended to consume more of the unpolished varieties of grains.

Leguminous include peas, beans and lentils. The most popular legume amongst Malaysians is probably soya bean and its products. We have been consuming soya bean in various forms, e.g. as soya milk, tofu, tau-kua, tempeh. taufu-fah,fu-chok and soya bean sprout.

All legumes except for soya beans are very similar in nutritional content. They are rich in protein, carbohydrate and dietary fibre. They are also important sources of some vitamins such as the B-vitamins. With 34 per cent protein content, soya beans is a richer source of plant protein compared to other legumes, whose protein content range from 14 to 24 per cent. Soya beans are available in different forms such as soya milk, tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein (TVP), and soya sprouts.

Dietary fibres are healthful

Fibre is the indigestible polysaccharide portion of plants. They can be in the forms of soluble and insoluble fibre. The sources of soluble fibres are fruits, cereals and legumes and insoluble fibres are vegetables and wheat bran.

Fibres found in these foods are now known to be able to bring about a variety of beneficial effects to health. For example, fibres help proper bowel function, reduce symptoms of chronic constipation, diverticular diseases, and hemorrhoids and may lower the risk for heart disease and some forms of cancer.

Dietary fibres are now added to a variety of foods that do not traditionally contain them, e.g. to milk powder and beverages. A variety of non-digestible polysaccharides and oligosaccharides have been recognised as dietary fibre and with approved function claims, e.g. inulin, fructooligosaccharide, galactooligosaccharide, mixture of these oligosaccharides, polydextrose resistant dextrin and resistant starch.

Phytochemicals are bioactive components

Besides vitamins and minerals, plant foods like orange, cabbage and oats contain numerous naturally occurring components that possess physiological and health benefits that go beyond the basic nutrients.

Many of these chemicals in plants (phytochemicals) have been shown to be capable of reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and coronary heart diseases.

Fruits and vegetables contain a good amount of these bioactive components. Carotenoids are good examples of these phytochemicals and some common carotenoids with known physiological functions are beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein. These are found in the orange-red pigments of fruits and vegetables.

Other healthful phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables are glucosinolates, found in vegetables of the Brassicafa family, which include cabbage, cauliflower, kai-lan, Chinese cabbage, pak-choy and Brussel sprouts.

Some bioactive components identified in the soya bean and their potential health benefits investigated are isoflavones, phytosterols and saponins.

Yes, I know you have heard about the goodness of plant foods before. You have heard about the vitamins and minerals and dietary fibre in these foods. However, I do not think we are not consuming enough of plant foods. I feel we have to do better.

NutriScene is a fortnightly column by Dr Tee E Siong, who pens his thoughts as a nutritionist with over 30 years of experience in the research and public health arena. For further information, e-mail The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star and AsiaOne do not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star and AsiaOne disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

This story was first published in The Star on Nov 30, 2008.



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