Have you discovered the health benefits of cherries? The deep red pigment that gives cherries their colorful hue comes from anthocyanins, strong antioxidant compounds that reduce inflammation. Not only that, but the anthocyanins found in cherries may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. Unfortunately, cherries are seasonal. If you don’t have access to fresh cherries year round will you get the same nutritional goodness from eating frozen cherries? Does freezing cherries reduce their health benefits?
Frozen Cherries: Are They as Healthy as Fresh?
If the only way to enjoy the health benefits of cherries is to buy frozen ones, add them to your grocery cart anyway – but choose fresh cherries whenever possible, especially if you plan on storing them in your freezer for a while. Freezing cherries in a home freezer causes loss of some of the anthocyanins that give them their nutritional punch. In fact, after six months of freezing, the anthocyanins in cherries are cut by half.
The good news is you can buy tart cherries and sweet cherries in cans all year round, and canning doesn’t reduce their anthocyanin content. When possible, choose tart cherries over sweet cherries since tart ones have significantly more anthocyanins than sweet ones. The darker the tart cherry, the more anthocyanins they contain. Tart cherries are also slightly lower in sugar than their sweet-tasting cousins.
If you do purchase frozen cherries or try freezing cherries at home, use them as quickly as possible since the anthocyanins slowly degrade over time. Try whipping them into a smoothie in your blender. Frozen cherries are a tasty addition to frozen drinks since they add texture and a delicious cherry taste.
Health Benefits of Cherries
Tart cherries have natural anti-inflammatory properties. They work by blocking the same enzymes that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications do. Because they block inflammation, studies show they reduce muscle soreness after exercise, which is a good reason to head to the kitchen for a frozen cherry smoothie after a workout! They also help you sleep at night because of the melatonin they contain. Not surprisingly, there are studies looking into their anti-cancer properties.
Frozen Cherries vs. Fresh: The Bottom Line?
Choose fresh cherries whenever possible. If you can’t find them, select canned instead. If you do freeze cherries, use them as quickly as possible to preserve their health benefits. Enjoy the many health benefits of cherries.
The Linus Pauling Institute. “The Possible Health Benefits of Anthyocyanin Pigments and Polyphenolics”