Coffee aficionados and health food advocates are increasingly focused on the antioxidant and other disease-fighting properties of the revered bean, but what about the fruit that surrounds the bean, the so-called "cherry"? If you are unfamiliar with this miracle food, read on.
Most consumers are familiar with superfoods--fruits and vegetables with immune-system-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties, and an ability to protect against free radicals. Pineapples and oranges are among the more well-known of these, but nutritionists have more recently added to this privileged group the coffee fruit, which has highly concentrated polyphenol compounds (ferulic, chlorogenic, caffeic, and quinic acids, as well as proanthocyanidins). Indeed, research shows that coffee cherries have more antioxidants than pomegranates, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, tea, and vitamins E and C.
Anyone who has picked coffee and popped a ripe cherry into their mouth can attest to the sweet, almost-cranberry like flavor of this overlooked fruit, and consuming it as a raw, whole food is probably the best way to garner the maximum health benefits. "What if you do not live in a coffee producing area?," you ask. Well... Historically, you would have been hard pressed to experience the nutritional benefits of coffee cherries outside of rural Hawaii, South America, Africa, and other growing areas because the fruit was usually discarded or used as a soil amendment on the coffee farm.
More recently, however, health food producers began processing the cherries into consumable products for a much broader consumer market. Hawaii-based KonaRed, for instance, uses pulp from Kona coffee beans to make drink powders and juices sold across the country. Seattle-based CoffeeFlour, on the other hand, turns discarded coffee pulp from plantations around the world into baking flour. (Tasting of roasted fruit, it reportedly has five times the fiber of whole grain bread, three times the iron of spinach, twice the potassium of bananas, and three times the protein of kale.) No matter where you live, you can now enjoy the benefits of this recent arrival to the superfood scene from these and other makers of coffee cherry products.