Cherry SaladA cherry is a cherry is a cherry, right? Well, not exactly. First, there are two types of cherries – the sweet varieties that we buy fresh in the grocery produce aisles or at the ubiquitous farm stands in cherry country, and the tart varieties that are mainly used for cooking, juices, canning and drying. There are several varieties of each type, but one tart cherry stands out among the rest for its unique flavor and nutritional attributes. That little beauty is the Montmorency, “The Cherry with More.” Montmorency tart cherries are grown on small family farms in North America, and the epicenter of their cultivation is northwest Michigan. In fact, about 75 percent of U.S. Montmorency tart cherries are grown in this part of the state known as the “Cherry Capitol of the World,” and home to the National Cherry Festival. Montmorency tart cherries are different in that they have a unique sweet-sour taste and nutrient profile. Because of these distinctive qualities, they have been the subject of many nutritional studies – more than any other cherry, and the evidence of their health benefits is growing. Over 50 studies supporting the potential health benefits of Montmorency tart cherries have been conducted in recent years. The potential benefits studied range from inflammation and exercise recovery to sleep. The studies have uncovered a connection between the tart taste and the amount of anthocyanins contained inside the cherry. Studies found that these flavonoid compounds account for the sour taste, bright red color and potential health-promoting properties. There is growing evidence that consuming Montmorency tart cherries could potentially ease muscle soreness after exercise, reduce arthritis pain and enhance heart health. These Super Fruits also contain melatonin, a natural hormone that regulates our sleep cycle. Harvest season for Montmorency tart cherries takes place in July, and unless you live in northwest Michigan, you probably won’t find them fresh, even in season. But, thanks to the pioneering drying process developed by Graceland Fruit in Frankfort, Michigan, “The Cherry with More” can be enjoyed all year long. For more information about Montmorency tart cherries, including recipes, visit www.choosecherries.com.