Food Group Superfoods: Fruit (Part 4)

Last week, we looked at blueberries and plums, fruits from the blue/blue-red end of the spectrum that have much to offer in terms of health benefits. I actually ended up buying a small container of plums this weekend at Costco — haven’t eaten one yet, but I’m hoping they’re sweet and juicy! This week, we’ll look at two more fruits: cherries and kiwi.

What they offer: I have to admit, I don’t eat a lot of cherries, although I like their flavor. Maybe it’s because it takes effort to chew the fruit and spit out the seed. (It also may be because I don’t care much for cherry pie.)

According to the Choose Cherries Web site[1], cherries are “America’s super fruit” (I wonder how grape and blueberry growers feel about that…). There are many varieties of sweet cherries (the Bing cherry being the most popular), although tart cherries are usually used for pie-making. Maraschino cherries are cherries preserved in brine, then soaked in a sugar syrup and food coloring (usually red or green). The top grower of sweet cherries is Germany, followed by the United States.

Cherries contain a multitude of nutrients, including vitamins A and C, the B vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium[2], and fiber[3]. Other nutrients include beta-sitosterol (a plant sterol that can lower cholesterol[4]), quercetin (a flavonoid that may help fight heart disease), and amygdalin, ellagic acid, and perillyl alcohol, each of which have cancer-fighting properties. The anthocyanins (powerful antioxidants) in cherries may also fight heart disease, along with possibly helping diabetes by improving insulin resistance[5].

For those of you who have arthritis or gout, Bing and black cherries contain a substance called cyanidin that can help block the pain caused by uric acid crystals. Having trouble sleeping? Dealing with jet lag? Cherries contain melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate our sleep patterns. Try eating cherries one hour before a flight and then one hour before going to bed.

Nutrition info: One cup of cherries (with the pits) contains about 75 calories, 19 grams of carbohydrate, 2.5 grams of fiber, and 0.2 grams of fat. Cherries also have a low glycemic index[6] of 22.

What to look for/how to use: Select cherries that are firm and glossy without bruises or cuts. They should have their stems on them. Also, select one cherry at a time, looking for signs of spoilage, as one spoiled cherry can spoil the whole bunch. Besides being a great snack, cherries can be added to salads and cereals, and mixed into muffin, bread, or pancake batter. To remove the pit, slice the cherry in half and take out the pit.

Cherries can be frozen for up to 10 months. Dried cherries and cherry juice are popular too, but are higher in calories and carbs than fresh cherries. For more cherry info, including recipes, check out[7].

What it offers: Kiwi, or kiwifruit, is the small, oval-shaped, fuzzy brown fruit that you’ve probably seen in the grocery store, wondering what the heck it is and how someone would eat it. But cut open the fruit and you’ll see a glistening, jewel-toned green fruit speckled with a circle of little black seeds.

The kiwi originated in China, where it was called the Chinese gooseberry (the name was changed to kiwi in honor of the New Zealand kiwi bird). This fruit is actually a newcomer to the United States, brought over by missionaries in the early 1900’s. China, New Zealand, and Italy are the top growers of kiwi.

Did you know that a kiwi has more vitamin C than an orange? It also contains vitamin E, beta-carotene, potassium, fiber, and lutein and zeaxanthin, phytonutrients important for eye health. Kiwis contain antioxidants, too, that may protect against heart disease, cancer, and macular degeneration[8]. Some research shows that eating kiwis can help lessen the symptoms of asthma, as well.

A note of caution: Some people may be allergic to kiwi due to a chemical in the fruit called actinidin. Symptoms of kiwi allergy include itching of the mouth, lips, and palate, along with wheezing and more life-threatening symptoms.

Nutrition info: One medium kiwi has 46 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of fiber, 0.4 grams of fat, and a moderate glycemic index of 52.

What to look for/how to use: Choose a kiwi that is firm but yields to slight pressure. While it sounds unappealing, you can actually eat the kiwi skin. Just wash it and gently brush off the hair. Otherwise, peel the kiwi and slice it into fruit salad or on cereal. Or stir some kiwi into muffin batter. Or slice the top off and eat it with a spoon for a quick, easy snack.

More superfoods next week!

  1. Choose Cherries Web site:
  2. potassium:
  3. fiber:
  4. cholesterol:
  5. insulin resistance:
  6. glycemic index:
  8. macular degeneration:

Source URL:

Amy Campbell: Amy Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition and Meal Planning and a frequent contributor to Diabetes Self-Management and Diabetes & You. She has co-authored several books, including the The Joslin Guide to Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association’s 16 Myths of a “Diabetic Diet,” for which she received a Will Solimene Award of Excellence in Medical Communication and a National Health Information Award in 2000. Amy also developed menus for Fit Not Fat at Forty Plus and co-authored Eat Carbs, Lose Weight with fitness expert Denise Austin. Amy earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Simmons College and a master’s degree in nutrition education from Boston University. In addition to being a Registered Dietitian, she is a Certified Diabetes Educator and a member of the American Dietetic Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Amy was formerly a Diabetes and Nutrition Educator at Joslin Diabetes Center, where she was responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of disease management programs, including clinical guideline and educational material development, and the development, testing, and implementation of disease management applications. She is currently the Director of Clinical Education Content Development and Training at Good Measures. Amy has developed and conducted training sessions for various disease and case management programs and is a frequent presenter at disease management events.

Disclaimer of Medical Advice: Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information, which comes from qualified medical writers, does not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs.