Cherries are related to plums and more distantly to peaches and nectarines. Cherries are drupe fruits with a central stony-hard seed surrounded by edible fleshy fruit measuring 2 cm in diameter.
Cherries are grown in several regions of this country, but seventy percent of the cherries produced in the United States come from three states: California, Washington and Oregon.
There are two main types of cherries: sweet and sour. The sweet types of cherries include dark and light varieties. Dark colored varieties have a deep mahogany or bright red color. Light varieties have a yellow or yellow and red skin and yellow or white flesh. These are sweet, not tart, cherries. Sour types of cherries are usually canned or frozen for pies or sauces.
Cherries are a low calorie fruit; however, they are a rich source of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. One cup of cherries contains about 74 calories, 1 gram of protein, no fat, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber and 15 grams of sugar.
One of the most interesting health benefits of sweet cherries is their completely unique set of antioxidants. Sweet cherries contain the antioxidant melatonin, which can have a calming effect on brain neurons and the nervous system, soothing irritability, insomnia, headaches, and even helping to establish regular sleep patterns. Sweet cherries are a good source of several minerals, such as potassium (good for the heart and blood pressure), iron, zinc, copper and manganese