Seeing Red: Health Benefits of Cherries

In pies — and in pills — cherries are a healthy and delicious choice

February is Michelle White’s favorite month, and not just because of Valentine’s Day. The founder of cherry-concentrate company Michelle’s Miracle notes that February is both National Cherry Month and American Heart Month.

While working in a northwest Michigan cherry facility, White noticed people asking for juice extracted when tart cherries are pitted. Studies were coming out on how it was good for gout, arthritis, and other ailments. In 2008, she started Michelle’s Miracle, which features tart cherries in liquid and pill form.

Health professionals agree on the benefits of the antioxidant-rich fruit.

“They have fiber, are naturally low in calories, have vitamin C, calcium, iron, and potassium,” says Bethany Thayer, director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention for the Henry Ford Health System. “They also have anthocyanins, which seem to decrease inflammation and may help with arthritis.” And cherries’ plant sterols help lower cholesterol absorption.

Dr. Mike Carroll, a Traverse City-based family-medicine practitioner, is also a proponent. “We need something different to find a way to stop outliving our joints,” he says. “And cherries can help … with no side effects.”

White’s Original Tart Cherry Concentrate (available at Whole Foods and Plum Market) can be used for glazes, drinks, and more. There’s also a Joint Formula and Sleep Formula.

White also lends her cherry prowess to chefs, including those at Lake Leelanau’s Bella Fortuna North. “We’ll do things like fruit crepes, mixed greens with cherry duck confit, filet of Michigan beef in a cherry demi-glace, you name it,” says White, whose company in Leland uses cherries grown at nearby farms.

“Tart cherries contain more vitamin A and beta-carotene than raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, peaches, watermelon, oranges, blueberries, or apples,” she says.

We’ll drink (cherry concentrate) to that.

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