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Are Cherries Good for You?

Key Takeaways:

  • Cherries are nutritious, being low in calories and rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • They promote heart health by lowering blood pressure and inflammation.
  • Their melatonin content may improve sleep quality.
  • Cherries support digestive health through their fiber and ability to nourish gut bacteria.
  • More research is still needed to confirm some of the proposed health benefits of cherries.


Cherries are a delightful summer fruit that many people enjoy eating fresh, frozen, dried, or juiced. But are these ruby red berries simply a tasty treat or do they actually offer important health benefits? This comprehensive article will analyze the full range of evidence-based health effects linked to cherries.

The nutritional profile and unique plant compounds found in cherries contribute to their potential to improve cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation, enhance sleep quality, and support digestive health. This article will provide an in-depth evaluation of the existing research on the emerging health benefits of cherries as well as key information on cherry nutrition facts, selection, storage, and preparation. After reading, you will have a thorough understanding of the current scientific consensus on the diverse ways cherries may promote wellness as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

With their pleasant flavor and versatility, cherries can be a nutritious addition to your diet. The wealth of nutrition information and health-related evidence presented here will help you determine whether making cherries a regular part of your fruit intake could be advantageous for you.

Cherries: A Nutrient-Packed, Low-Calorie Fruit

Cherries are highly nutritious, being particularly rich in key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Let’s take a closer look at the impressive nutritional profile of cherries.

Nutrition Facts

One cup (154g) of sweet cherries with pits contains:

  • Calories: 97
  • Fat: 0.3g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 25g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Sugar: 19g
  • Protein: 2g

The same portion provides 112% of the Daily Value for vitamin C and 10% or more for vitamin K, potassium, copper and manganese.

Sweet cherries have a glycemic index score between 22 to 40, making them a low glycemic index food. Sour cherries rate even lower on the glycemic index at 22.

Vitamins and Minerals

Cherries provide a range of important vitamins and minerals. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, delivering about a third of the recommended daily intake in just one cup. Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body.

Cherries also contain vitamin A precursors called carotenoids, specifically beta-carotene and lutein. These compounds promote eye health and may guard against macular degeneration.

The B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin and pyridoxine are present in cherries. These micronutrients are vital for converting food into energy and supporting metabolism.

On the mineral front, cherries are a great source of potassium, which helps control blood pressure. They also provide trace amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.


Cherries owe many of their health benefits to their abundant antioxidants, including anthocyanins and cyanidin. These compounds are responsible for the vibrant red pigment of cherries.

Research shows anthocyanins positively affect inflammation and cholesterol levels in the body. Cyanidin may promote cellular health and heart health.

The anthocyanin content is higher in tart cherries than sweet cherries. Montmorency tart cherries contain approximately 275 milligrams of anthocyanins per 100 grams.

Overall, the rich antioxidant presence in cherries adds to their nutritional value and potential therapeutic effects.


Cherries contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. One cup provides 3 grams of fiber, which equates to 11% of the daily recommended intake.

Fiber slows digestion, helps regulate blood sugar levels and promotes a feeling of fullness. It also nourishes the beneficial bacteria in your intestines to support digestive health.

Low Calorie

With their high water content, cherries are naturally low in calories. One cup of sweet cherries contains just 97 calories, making them a smart snack option if you’re watching your waistline.

Do Cherries Support Heart Health?

Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death worldwide. Therefore, it’s important to identify foods that benefit cardiovascular wellness. Research suggests cherries may promote heart health in the following ways:

Lowering Blood Pressure

Hypertension or high blood pressure damages arteries and increases strain on the heart. Studies show cherry consumption may help lower blood pressure.

In one trial, healthy adults who drank cherry juice for four weeks experienced a significant drop in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings. Researchers think anthocyanins are likely responsible for the blood pressure-lowering effect.

Reducing Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is an underlying cause of atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes. The anthocyanins in cherries act as anti-inflammatory agents in the body, which may protect against cardiovascular disease.

A 2021 randomized controlled trial found markers of inflammation decreased in older adults who drank Montmorency tart cherry juice daily for 12 weeks compared to a placebo group.

Improving Cholesterol Levels

Unhealthy cholesterol levels raise your risk for heart disease. Early evidence shows cherry anthocyanins may improve cholesterol profiles.

In one small study, participants who consumed sweet cherries for 28 days experienced a significant decrease in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol along with increases in HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Larger studies are still needed.

While current research is promising, more rigorous human trials with larger sample sizes are necessary to confirm whether cherries definitively impact cardiovascular risk factors like blood pressure, inflammation and cholesterol. Nonetheless, the heart-healthy nutrients in cherries make them a smart component of an overall heart-healthy diet pattern.

Do Cherries Reduce Inflammation and Oxidative Stress?

Inflammation is a normal immune response, but chronic inflammation contributes to many modern illnesses. Oxidative stress, an imbalance between antioxidants and unstable free radical molecules, also plays a role in disease development. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of cherries have been investigated for possible benefits against:


Osteoarthritis involves progressive joint damage often marked by inflammation. Some, but not all, studies indicate cherry consumption may curb inflammatory compounds and reduce arthritis pain.

In one 12-week trial, tart cherry juice reduced several blood markers of inflammation in adults with osteoarthritis. Participants also reported significantly less pain and stiffness.


Gout is a form of painful inflammatory arthritis caused by excess uric acid crystals building up in the joints. Cherries may minimize flare-ups by lowering circulating uric acid levels and quelling inflammation.

According to a 2019 meta-analysis, evidence indicates consuming cherries decreases the risk of recurrent gout attacks compared to no intervention. Sour cherries or cherry juice equivalent to 90 whole cherries daily is the recommended intake for gout prevention.

Exercise Recovery

The antioxidant content of cherries may ease muscle damage and soreness following strenuous exercise.

Marathon runners drinking cherry juice in the days before a race experienced less post-run pain and muscle damage. The anti-inflammatory benefits likely aid exercise recovery.

Overall, early research provides some evidence that compounds in cherries like anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions that could benefit certain health conditions. However, larger human studies on cherries’ effects on arthritis, gout, exercise recovery and general inflammatory markers are still sparse.

Do Cherries Improve Sleep Quality?

Sleep deficiency raises the risk of medical problems like obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Tart and sweet cherries both contain melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. The amount of melatonin in cherries may promote better sleep in the following ways:

Regulating Sleep Patterns

Melatonin influences circadian rhythms and has sedative properties to induce drowsiness. In one pilot study, participants reported improved sleep duration and quality after drinking Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks. Researchers noted the supplemental melatonin from cherries likely contributed to these effects.

Increasing Sleep Time

A randomized placebo-controlled trial found adults with insomnia slept around 85 minutes longer per night after drinking tart cherry juice twice a day. Plus, the cherry juice group experienced modest improvements in sleep quality.

Improving Sleep Efficiency

Early research also indicates tart cherry juice increases sleep efficiency, defined as the percentage of time in bed actually spent asleep. In the study mentioned above, sleep efficiency rose from around 80% to over 90% with cherry juice consumption.

While melatonin in cherries shows promise for improving sleep parameters, optimal dosage and long-term impact remain unclear. Further studies are warranted, especially in those diagnosed with sleep disorders. But enjoying cherries as an evening snack could be a refreshing, low-risk way to incorporate more sleep-promoting foods into your diet.

Do Cherries Benefit Digestive Health?

Gut health affects your whole body. From their fiber content to prebiotic benefits, cherries influence digestive wellness in key ways:

Relieving Constipation

Constipation is characterized by infrequent, difficult bowel movements. The insoluble fiber in cherries adds bulk to stool and may help get things moving.

One study found consuming prunes and dried cherries daily for 4 weeks improved stool frequency and consistency in constipated older adults without adverse effects.

Prebiotic Effects

Cherries contain polyphenols that feed the beneficial bacteria in your intestines. These compounds selectively stimulate the growth of health-promoting bacteria like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli.

In a simulated model of the human gut, tart cherry extracts enriched microbial populations and increased short-chain fatty acid production. Short-chain fatty acids nourish colon cells and support gut barrier integrity.

Regular Bowel Movements

All types of fiber normalize bowel movements. The 3 grams of fiber in a one-cup serving of cherries contributes to their potential to ease constipation and maintain regularity.

While limited research exists currently, the fiber, phytochemicals and prebiotic qualities of cherries reveal promise for improving constipation,bowel regularity and overall digestive health.

How to Select and Store Cherries

Follow these simple tips to pick flavorful cherries and keep them fresh:

  • Look for glossy, plump cherries with bright color and intact stems. Avoid any with brown spots.
  • Sweet cherries should have a natural sweet aroma. Tart cherries will smell more acidic.
  • For the best flavor and texture, eat cherries as soon as possible after purchasing.
  • Store fresh cherries unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week.
  • Freeze cherries for later use in baking, smoothies or compotes.
  • Dried, frozen, canned or juiced cherries also provide nutritional benefits.

Tips for Enjoying Cherries

Cherries are exceptionally versatile. Here are quick ideas for reaping their health perks:

  • Enjoy fresh cherries by the handful as a snack or dessert.
  • Add cherries to green salads, chicken dishes, grains or oatmeal.
  • Mix dried, frozen or fresh cherries into muffin, cake, bread or pancake batter.
  • Make homemade cherry sauce using frozen cherries, sugar and cornstarch. Pour over cheesecake or ice cream.
  • Blend cherries with Greek yogurt, milk and protein powder for a recovery smoothie.
  • Mix cherry juice with seltzer water or lemonade for a refreshing drink option.

The Bottom Line

Cherries are a nutritious, low-calorie fruit full of beneficial nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, fiber and anthocyanins. Early research suggests cherries may promote heart health, reduce inflammation, enhance sleep and improve digestion. While controlled human trials are limited in number and scope, the existing evidence indicates cherries may offer protective health effects.

Overall, cherries are a healthy addition to your diet, as they are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Enjoy cherries in moderation as part of a balanced diet to take advantage of their unique nutritional profile and emerging health benefits. Let their sweet taste motivate you to eat more of these antioxidant-packed berries

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