Sweet cherries have a lot going for them—from their iconic emoji-worthy shape and color to their sweet-tart juicy bite, from their inflammation-reducing properties to their cancer-fighting antioxidants. And of course, this fresh fruit has a SmartPoints value of exactly 0. What’s not to love?
- There’s a cherry for everyone. From the juicy, mahogany-hued Bing to the sweet, red-gold Rainer—with varieties like Sweetheart, Regina, and Early Robin in between—you’re sure to find a cherry that hits your sweet spot. They pack a nutritional punch. Aside from being a delicious source of daily dietary fiber, a cup of pitted cherries contains nearly 2 grams of protein, 342 mg of potassium, 39 percent of your daily vitamin A needs and a quarter of the recommended daily vitamin C.
- They’ve got body benefits. Bing cherries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which have been shown to decrease inflammation that can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and cancer. They are also high in the flavonoids isoquercitrin and quercitrin, both antioxidants, and ellagic acid, a phenol—all of which have been found to provide many of the same benefits in the lab as antioxidants.
- They freeze beautifully. As much as you might try to maximize your cherry consumption during its summer season, cherry season invariably feels way too short. Unless, that is, you freeze your fresh fruit. It couldn’t be easier: Simply rinse fresh cherries in cold water, then drain. Then pack them into a plastic freezer bag or freezer-safe container, squeezing lightly to remove excess air. Then freeze. No need to remove stems or pits until later, when you defrost them for use in your favorite recipe.
- Cherries can swing sweet or savory. They add sweet balance to a bulgur and feta salad, and provide fruity depth to a classic strudel. We’ve rounded up our favorite cherry recipes—for every course from starters through desserts—below.