Tart Cherry (Prunus cerasus) has long been enjoyed since the time of the ancient Greeks, the great Roman Emperors and ancient Chinese Royalties. This tiny fruit is the smallest member of the stone family which includes peaches, apricots, plums and nectarines. Having a great visual appeal due to its attractive ruby red hue, the tart yet sweet taste also makes it very appealing to the taste buds. Commonly eaten fresh, dried, used as toppings in cherry pies or made into juice or syrup, Tart Cherry has much more to offer than its color and unique taste. Studies have revealed that this tiny fruit’s flesh is packed with nutrients that have a significant impact on health and well-being.
Tart Cherry, also known as sour cherry, dwarf cherry or wild cherry, is native to Europe and southwest Asia and was brought to the Americas by early settlers in the 1600s. Related to the sweet cherry, Tart Cherry is more acidic and is said to have more nutritional and medicinal benefits than its sweet counterpart .
With 270 varieties of Tart Cherry, only a few are cultivated commercially like the Montmorency, Richmond, the dark red Morello and the light-red Amarelle varieties. Tart Cherries grow from trees that can reach a maximum height of about 12 meters. In spring, Tart Cherry trees bear delicate white to pale pink flowers that mature into small light to dark red fruits with light brown seeds. Although Tart Cherry is commonly used to make jams and pies, it is now being recognized as a super food that could boost the nutritional content of health food, drinks and other nutritional products. Tart Cherry juice has become the drink of choice for many athletes due to its post recovery benefits. Tart Cherry Freeze-dried Powder retains the nutritional potency and flavor inherent to fresh Tart Cherries and has a myriad of food, beverage, cosmetic and nutraceutical applications.
Nutrients and Applications
Tart Cherry is packed with vitamins A and C, iron and calcium as well as being a great source of fiber. Aside from its rich vitamin and mineral content, Tart Cherry also contains bioactive compounds in greater amounts compared to other fruits and vegetables.
Tart Cherry has excellent levels of the potent plant phenol anthocyanin, responsible for giving some fruits and vegetables their red color. Anthocyanin, found in abundance in Tart Cherry, is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the body from harmful free radicals. Anthocyanin also has anti-inflammatory properties. It is said that Tart Cherry was the remedy of the Cherokee Indians for gout and arthritis .
Due to its high anthocyanin content, Tart Cherry has been ranked no. 14 among the 50 foods with the highest antioxidant content . Tart Cherry’s antioxidant properties may help ease post workout stress leading to faster recovery and decreased muscle pain and damage during intense physical activities.
Help for insomniacs may also be found in this fruit as Tart Cherry is a natural source of melatonin and the amino acid tryptophan which help improve sleep quality naturally. Tart Cherry also contains flavonols that improve blood flow, support heart, brain and joint health, inhibit the growth of unhealthy cells and help control fat and glucose levels. All these wonderful health benefits can be found in these small, delightfully tart orbs.