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Sweet Cherries - Nutrition, Benefits, and Usage

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Cherries are a source of nutrition and sweetness used in a wide range of sweet cuisines. Read the article to know the health benefits of cherries.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sachin Sunda

Published At November 28, 2022
Reviewed AtApril 4, 2024

What Are the Types of Cherries?

Various cherries are available with distinct flavors, colors, and uses. The common types of cherries are as follows:

  • Sweet cherries.

  • Tart or sour cherries.

  • Duke cherries (used in cooking and baking).

  • Sweet bush cherries.

  • Japanese cherries.

  • Cornelian cherries.

How Nutritious Are Cherries?

Cherries or sweet cherries are the most common ingredients used in desserts and have been considered healthy by various nutritionists. The cherries are diverse and have a low glycemic index (low sugar levels), an excellent source of low fat, high protein, and vitamin C, which helps in improving health. However, it is only beneficial if it is consumed without added sugars. One cup or 138 grams of cherries serves approximately 87 calories, 17.7 g of sugar, and 22 g of carbohydrates.

What Is the Nutrition Content of Sweet Cherries?

Sweet cherries in abundant amounts are considered a good source of vitamin C and other essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Given below are the nutritional values for one cup or 138 grams of cherries given by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) -

  • Fiber - 3 grams.

  • Sugar - 17.7 grams.

  • Protein - 1.4 grams.

  • Vitamin C - 9.7 grams.

  • Potassium - 306 grams.

  • Fat - 0.3 grams.

  • Sodium - 0 grams.

  • Carbs - 22 grams.

  • Calcium - 17.9 grams.

  • Magnesium - 15.2 grams.

Fresh cherries (sweet cherries) are considered beneficial as they have low glycemic values (below 55) compared to other fruits. However, cherries that are dried out (tart cherries) or have additional added sugars can have a higher glycemic index than usual. Moreover, sweet cherries are considered fat-free as these have only trace or very negligible amounts of fat, less than 1/2 gram per single cup, and one can gain around 1.5 grams of protein by consuming the same amount.

What Are the Health Benefits of Sweet Cherries?

Some of the health benefits of eating cherries include the following -

1.Aids in Muscle Recovery and Shortens Recovery Time Post Exercise - According to various research, sweet cherries or tart cherries tend to reduce muscle damage after an intense workout.

2. Cardioprotective - Due to their anti-inflammatory properties and high potassium content, sweet cherries are the perfect add-on fruit in a cardioprotective diet or a heart-healthy meal plan. In addition to that, because of their high fiber content, cherries have lower cholesterol effects.

3. Prevention of Gout - According to traditional nutrition research, sweet cherries and canned cherries (tart cherries) have been studied as beneficial in arthritis treatment and gout prevention. In addition, the ability of sweet cherries to help an individual stabilize or normalize their uric acid content has been demonstrated through multiple clinical research for decades.

4. Anti-cancer Effect - The rich color of the sweet cherry stems is from anthocyanins, which yield powerful antioxidants to the human body and immune system that help break down cancer-causing oxidative compounds. Because of the high vitamin C content, cherries are generally recommended by dieticians and nutritionists, which helps in reducing the risk of lung cancer, especially in smokers. Moreover, according to recent research, it may also help prevent colon cancer.

5. Enhances Memory and Prevents Oxidative Damage - The flavonoids and anthocyanins, present mainly in dark-colored cherries, are known to shield the brain from oxidative stress and damage. Memory loss and oxidative damage are commonly seen in individuals because of various factors ranging from aging, environmental triggers, stressors, smoking, and chronic systemic medical issues such as uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure.

Who Cannot Consume Sweet Cherries?

Cherry allergies are common, especially in individuals with a known history of allergies or who are opposed to similar fruits like strawberries, grapes, or rare vegetable sensitivities. The amygdalin compound in cherries would be a potential allergen in some individuals. Any hypersensitivity reaction to this should be reported to the healthcare provider immediately.

In patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it can trigger irritation or aggravate the condition because of the high carbohydrate varieties. Therefore, it is best if these individuals avoid cherries altogether.

How Are Cherries Stored and Processed?

Cherries can be purchased from the market in different ways, such as fresh from the farm (sweet cherries), canned, jarred, or dried cherries (tart cherries). Generally, the common red cherry is available during summers as the tropical climate influences the yield. Certain varieties of cherries, including yellow or black, have longer growing or slightly different seasons of growth.

Fresh or sweet cherries should be chosen for consumption after being free from visible signs like damage to the fruit or mold. They should also not be washed before eating and stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator, prolonging their shelf life without any risk of spoilage.

What Is the Culinary Use of Cherries?

Cherries can be added or mixed with Greek yogurt, cottage, or ricotta cheese, making a delicious and highly proteinaceous breakfast or snack option. Cherries can also be tossed into salads, or most often, they are part of savory dishes that add sweetness and refreshing color and texture to the dish.

Cherries are commonly used fruits worldwide to prepare pies, tarts, and cakes. However, it is better to enjoy these nutritious fruits more naturally (as sweet cherries) rather than with added sugar (as tart cherries), which tends to increase the glycemic index of food and is not as healthy.

What Are the Side Effects of Cherries?

Cherry consumption is generally safe. However, certain side effects are described below:

  • Allergic reactions, such as itching, swelling, hives, and difficulty breathing.

  • Gastrointestinal issues, such as stomach upset and diarrhea.

  • Cherries may interact with certain medications, such as anticoagulant medications.

  • Kidney stones.

  • Elevated blood sugar levels.

  • Weight gain.

  • Pesticide residues, and thoroughly washing cherries help minimize the risk.

What Are the Precautions to Take With Cherries?

The precautions to take with cherries are as follows:

  • Be aware of cherry allergies.

  • Washing cherries before eating helps remove pesticide residues and contaminants.

  • Remove pits before serving cherries.

  • Do not consume excessive cherries. Otherwise, it may cause abdominal upset.

  • To maintain blood sugar levels, do not consume excessive amounts of sweet cherries.

  • It should be placed in the refrigerator.

  • Avoid overripe cherries.

Conclusion:

Like most natural fruits, sweet cherries are lower in calories with trace fat and adequate protein. It is also enriched with vitamin C and potassium content and its antioxidant effects, which benefit systemic health. Enjoying fresh or frozen forms of cherries would be the best recommended way to enjoy and savor the sweet taste of this healthy fruit.

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Dr. Achanta Krishna Swaroop
Dr. Achanta Krishna Swaroop

Dentistry

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