Latin Name: Prunus cerasus
What is a cherry?
Nothing says summer like cherries, the fleshy stone fruit of many plants of the genus Prunus. Juicy and sweet, most edible cherries come from either Prunus avium, the wild cherry, sometimes called sweet cherry, or from Prunus cerasus, the sour cherry, which is more often used in cooking.
The word cherry comes from the Latin word cerasum, which refers to the ancient Roman place Cerasus, from whence the cherry was first exported to Europe. The first recorded mention of the cherry was in Theophrastus’ History of Plants, around 300 BC, where it is said that the Greeks had for centuries been cultivating this fruit that was originally from Asia Minor.
What are the health benefits of cherries?
Warming in nature, cherry is used by traditional Chinese medicine to benefit the skin, rejuvenate the body, stimulate the appetite, stop dysentery and diarrhea, quench thirst, regenerate fluids, treat measles, relieve burns, stop seminal emissions, and overall, prolong life.
Cherries are particularly rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants and contain many anti-inflammatory compounds. Chinese researchers have long observed that cherries seem to keep diabetics healthy. In research, the antioxidant compounds that give the dark pigments to cherries have been found to increase insulin production in the pancreatic cells of animals. Known as anthocyanins, these compounds also protect you against heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. In another study, cherry anthocyanins were found to reduce pain and inflammation in rats.
Where can I find cherries?
Cherries can be found in grocery stores and outdoor markets in season; the peak season for cherries is in the summer.
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