Cherry Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Cherries annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Cherries are a nutritious, sweet treat that makes for a colorful addition in a variety of different dishes. The reputation of cherries as a dessert ingredient may have you wondering whether they're healthy enough to eat on a daily basis. Luckily, cherries provide several health benefits, especially when prepared without added sugars.

Cherry Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one 1 cup (138g) of raw cherries with pits.

  • Calories: 87
  • Fat: 0.3g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 22g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Sugars: 17.7g
  • Protein: 1.4g

Carbs

A cup of cherries contains 22 grams of carbohydrate, most of which come from natural sugars. There are also 3 grams of fiber in 1 cup of cherries.

Fresh cherries are considered a low glycemic food (coming in at under 55 on the glycemic index). Dried cherries or those with added sugar, however, will have a higher glycemic index.

Fats

Cherries are almost fat-free with less than 1/2 gram per cup.

Protein

There are 1.5 grams of protein in 1 cup of fresh cherries.

Vitamins and Minerals

Cherries are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and folate.

Health Benefits

Although cherries are naturally high in sugar, they possess a large concentration of beneficial phytonutrients that have positive health effects.

Prevents Gout

Fresh and canned cherries have been studied since the 1950s for arthritis treatment and gout prevention. Evidence of cherries' ability to restore normal uric acid levels has been demonstrated in multiple studies for decades. When looking at 633 gout patients, a 2018 study showed that fresh cherry or cherry extract intake was associated with a 35% reduction in gout attacks during a 2-day period.

May Lower Risk of Cancer

The rich color in cherries is due to anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that help the body mitigate potentially cancer-causing oxidative damage. Cherries also have vitamin C, which may be associated with a lower risk of lung cancer in people who smoke. In addition, the fiber in cherries is known to protect against colon cancer. Including cherries and other fruits and vegetables in your meal plan is a good step towards reducing the risk of several forms of cancer.

Reduces Muscle Soreness

Along with antioxidant properties, cherries are anti-inflammatory. When 50–270 tart cherries are consumed following intense exercise, muscle damage is reduced. By measuring two common byproducts of exercise recovery, creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase, researchers found cherries beneficial reducing soreness and shortening recovery time.

Aids Heart Health

A single dose of Bing cherry juice has been shown to significantly reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels within 2 hours in elderly adults. Given cherries' anti-inflammatory effects and high potassium content, it only makes sense to include cherries in a heart-healthy meal plan. By consuming whole cherries you also get added cholesterol-lowering effects from the fiber.

Supports Memory Function

The flavonoids and anthocyanins in dark-colored cherries help protect the brain from oxidative damage. Oxidative damage can occur in the brain as a result of aging, environmental stressors like smoking, and chronic medical issues like high blood pressure or diabetes. Filling your menu with vibrant fruits and vegetables, like cherries, can help protect your memory over the years.

Allergies

Cherry allergies have been known to occur and are sometimes correlated with strawberry, grape, and other fruit and vegetable sensitivities. Symptoms of a cherry allergy can include hives, swelling, vomiting, or tightness in the chest and. throat, and shortness of breath. If you suspect an allergy to cherries, see your doctor for a personalized evaluation.

Adverse Effects

Cherry pits contain a dangerous chemical called amygdalin. Although you shouldn't worry if you accidentally swallow one pit, it's best to avoid it. Watch out for crushed cherry pits because the amygdalin is more readily absorbed.

If you live with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it's worth noting that cherries are high in FODMAPs, a form of carbohydrates that can trigger flare-ups for some people. Those with a sensitivity to FODMAPs may need to avoid cherries and other stone fruit to help control their symptoms. If you have trouble digesting cherries, speak with a dietitian or GI doctor for individualized recommendations.

Varieties

There are several varieties of cherries that vary in color, size, and sweetness. Large and dark red Bing cherries are the most common in the United States. Other varieties include Royal Ann, Black Tartarian, Rainier, Stella, Chelan, and more.

Cherries can be purchased frozen, fresh, canned, jarred, or dried. The bright red cherries you see on top of ice cream sundaes are called maraschino cherries, which are made from a light-colored variety of that has been sweetened and preserved. For maximum health benefits, choose dark-colored cherries without added sugar.

When It's Best

Frozen, dried, or preserved cherries can be purchased at any time of the year in most grocery stores, as can fresh cherries that have been imported. Cherries are generally in season during the hot summer months, and certain varieties have longer growing seasons than others. Visit your local farmer's market to find out when cherries are available in your area.

Choose fresh cherries that are free of damage or mold. Fresh cherries should appear plump, never shriveled. Look for cherries that are shiny and firm with green stems still attached.

Storage and Food Safety

Refrain from washing cherries until you're ready to eat them. Washing them too soon causes cherries to deteriorate faster. Avoid keeping cherries near the sun or in warm temperatures. Instead, store fresh cherries uncovered in the coldest part of the refrigerator where they will last for several days. Watch out for signs of deterioration and discard rotten cherries before they cause the rest of the batch to spoil.

How to Prepare

Add cherries to Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese for a high protein breakfast or snack. Toss a few cherries into salads, or include them in savory dishes to add sweetness, color, and texture.

Cherries are also commonly used in pies, tarts, and other baked goods. Enjoying fresh or frozen cherries just as they are is one of the simplest ways to savor their sweetness.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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