Ground cherries (also called husk cherries and cape gooseberries) are small, orange fruits that grow inside thin, lantern-like husks. They belong to the nightshade family, and are native to temperate and subtropical regions throughout the world, including North America. Despite their name, ground cherries are more closely related to tomatoes than cherries, and their sweet, refreshing taste – comparable to that of strawberries – lends them well to salads, desserts, jams, and juices.
Ground cherries are popular with gardeners because they grow in most types of soil (including poor quality soil), although they are equally cherished for their health benefits.
List of Health Benefits
Rich in vitamin A – 100 grams of ground cherries contain 720 international units of vitamin A, which is 14 percent of an adult’s recommended daily intake (RDI). Vitamin A is needed for maintaining good vision and skin health, boosting immune function, and gene transcription. It is also an antioxidant, meaning that it can neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals, thereby shielding us from cancer and degenerative diseases like macular degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis, and cystic fibrosis.
Good source of vitamin C – 100 grams of ground cherries provide us with 11 milligrams of vitamin C, which is 18 percent of our RDI. Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that is needed for collagen production (which, in turn, quickens the body’s ability to repair wounds), lowering blood pressure, ensuring the proper dilation of blood vessels (thereby protecting us from diseases like atherosclerosis and congestive heart failure), fighting cataracts, and boosting the immune system. Like vitamin A, vitamin C is also an antioxidant that guards us from free radical damage.
B-vitamin complex – 100 grams of ground cherries contain varying amounts of certain B-vitamins, including thiamine (0.110 milligrams, or 7.3 percent of our RDI), riboflavin (0.040 milligrams, or two percent of our RDI), and niacin (2.800 milligrams, or 14 percent of our RDI). Although the B-vitamins work as a team, they do have specific purposes: Thiamine is needed to maintain a healthy nervous system (and is thus nicknamed the “anti-stress” vitamin), riboflavin is needed to facilitate cell growth and repair, and niacin is needed for DNA repair and maintaining energy levels.
Weight loss properties – One 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving of ground cherries provides us with a mere 53 calories and a single gram of fat. As a result, you can freely add as many of these cherries to your diet without worrying about weight gain. Also, like all fruits, they contain respectable levels of fiber, which makes you feel fuller and less inclined to overeat.
One 100 gram serving of ground cherries also provides us with nine milligrams of calcium (one percent of our RDI), one milligram of iron (six percent of our RDI), 40 milligrams of phosphorous (four percent of our RDI), and 1.9 grams of protein. The cherries are also free from sodium and cholesterol, and contain a low glycemic index score, making them suitable for diabetic and pre-diabetic individuals.