Sweet or tart, fresh or frozen, cherries can brighten your plate and palate throughout the year. These red gems also boast valuable nutrients and cancer prevention in their tiny packages.

Picture Perfect Nutrition

Cherries are packed with vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber, with only about 70-90 calories per cup (sweet cherries have a few more calories). Except for vitamin C, nutrients in frozen and canned cherries are nearly nutritionally equivalent to fresh.

Their rich red color comes from anthocyanins, a group of phytochemicals that lab research shows slow cancer cell growth and stimulate their self-destruction. Another phytochemical in cherries, perillyl alcohol, have similar effects and it may also act to disable carcinogens.

Versatile and Vibrant

In the United States, cherries are in season from May through August. But don’t overlook the freezer aisle for bags of unsweetened tart or sweet cherries. You can also find cherries canned in light syrup or water or try dried cherries for more intense flavoring. All can be used in baking, cooking, or in a mixed fruit salad.

From salads to desserts, here are ways cherries can add color and flavor to your meals:

A version of this article appeared in the 02/01/12 issue of AICR’s eNews.