Cherries - Properties, Calories

Are cherries fattening? It’s a common question many health-conscious individuals ask. The truth is, cherries are a nutrient-dense fruit packed with vitamins, minerals, and beneficial compounds that can support your health goals.

In this article, we’ll dive into the nutritional properties of cherries, including their calorie content and glycemic index. We’ll also explore how cherries may impact weight management and other aspects of health.

Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll learn:

  • The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in cherries
  • The calorie count and glycemic index of sweet and tart cherries
  • How cherry polyphenols may influence metabolism and fat storage
  • Other potential health benefits of cherries, such as improved sleep and exercise recovery

By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of whether cherries can fit into a balanced diet for weight management and overall health. Let’s get started!

Nutritional Properties of Cherries

Cherries are a nutrient-dense fruit, packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds. Here’s a detailed breakdown of their impressive nutritional profile:

Vitamins and Minerals

Cherries are an excellent source of several key nutrients:

  • Vitamin C: Cherries are high in vitamin C, providing about 10-16% of the Daily Value (DV) per cup. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that supports immune function and skin health.
  • Potassium: A cup of cherries contains around 10% of the DV for potassium, an essential mineral that helps regulate blood pressure and supports heart health.
  • Vitamin A: Sweet cherries are a good source of vitamin A, offering 74.88 IU per cup.
  • Other Nutrients: Cherries also provide smaller amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, vitamin K, and B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and folate.

Antioxidants and Anti-inflammatory Compounds

Cherries are rich in polyphenols and other plant compounds that offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits: [1]

  • Anthocyanins: These flavonoids give cherries their deep red color and have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Tart cherries tend to have higher concentrations of anthocyanins compared to sweet cherries.
  • Cyanidin: The main type of anthocyanin in cherries, cyanidin has been shown to have anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and anti-obesity effects in lab studies.
  • Hydroxycinnamic acids and perillyl alcohol: These antioxidants in cherries may help protect against oxidative stress and chronic diseases. [2]

Fiber Content

A cup of cherries provides around 2-3 grams of dietary fiber, which is important for digestive health, blood sugar control, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Here’s a table summarizing the key nutrients in a 1-cup serving of raw, pitted cherries: [3]

NutrientSweet Cherries (138g)Sour Cherries (155g)
Protein (g)1.241.6
Carbohydrates (g)18.7322
Fiber (g)2.463.0
Vitamin C (mg)8.199.7
Potassium (mg)259.74306
Vitamin A (IU)74.88NA

In summary, cherries provide an array of essential nutrients, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds that contribute to their impressive health benefits. Regularly incorporating this delicious fruit into a balanced diet can support overall health and well-being.

Calories in Cherries

Cherries are a delicious and nutritious snack, but it’s important to be mindful of their calorie content, especially if you’re watching your weight. Here’s a breakdown of the calories in different types and serving sizes of cherries:

Calorie Count per Serving

The calorie content of cherries varies slightly between sweet and tart varieties:

  • Sweet cherries: One cup (154g) of pitted sweet cherries contains approximately 97 calories.
  • Tart cherries: One cup (155g) of pitted tart cherries contains about 78 calories.

It’s worth noting that these values are for pitted cherries. If you consume cherries with pits, the calorie count will be slightly lower per cup since the pits take up some volume.

Comparison to Other Fruits

Cherries are comparable in calories to many other popular fruits. Here’s a quick comparison of calorie counts per one-cup serving:

FruitCalories per 1 cup
Cherries (sweet, pitted)97
Cherries (tart, pitted)78

As you can see, cherries fall somewhere in the middle of the range for fruit calorie counts.

Impact on Weight Management

Despite their relatively high sugar content, cherries can still be a part of a balanced diet for weight management. Here’s why:

  • Fiber content: Cherries are a good source of dietary fiber, with about 3 grams per cup. Fiber helps you feel full and satisfied, which can prevent overeating.
  • Low glycemic index: Cherries have a low glycemic index, meaning they don’t cause rapid spikes in blood sugar. This can help regulate appetite and reduce cravings.
  • Nutrient density: Cherries are packed with beneficial nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants. Consuming nutrient-dense foods can help you meet your nutritional needs while managing calorie intake.

To incorporate cherries into a weight-friendly diet, be mindful of portion sizes and pair them with other nutrient-rich foods like nuts, seeds, or yogurt. Avoid consuming cherries in sugary forms like pies, cobblers, or sweetened dried cherries, as these can add excess calories.

In summary, while cherries do contain natural sugars and calories, they can still be a nutritious and weight-friendly snack when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Glycemic Index of Cherries

The glycemic index (GI) is a scale that ranks foods based on how quickly they raise blood sugar levels. Foods with a low GI value (55 or less) are digested and absorbed more slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar. Cherries have a relatively low glycemic index, making them a suitable choice for individuals looking to manage their blood sugar levels.

What is Glycemic Index and Why It Matters

The glycemic index is a helpful tool for understanding how different foods affect blood sugar levels. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with pure glucose having a GI value of 100. Here’s how the GI scale is categorized:

  • Low GI: 55 or less
  • Medium GI: 56-69
  • High GI: 70 or higher

Consuming foods with a low GI can help prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar, which is particularly important for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing the condition.

Glycemic Index of Cherries Compared to Other Fruits

Cherries have a glycemic index of around 22, which falls into the low GI category. This means that cherries have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels compared to high GI foods. Here’s a comparison of the glycemic index of cherries and other common fruits:

FruitGlycemic Index (GI)

As evident from the table, cherries have one of the lowest GI values among fruits, making them a great choice for maintaining stable blood sugar levels.

Benefits for Blood Sugar Control and Diabetes

The low glycemic index of cherries, combined with their rich polyphenol content, may offer several benefits for blood sugar control and diabetes management:

  • Improved insulin sensitivity: The anthocyanins in cherries have been associated with enhanced insulin sensitivity, which can help the body utilize glucose more effectively.
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes: Regular consumption of low GI fruits like cherries may help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar.
  • Better glycemic control: Incorporating cherries into a balanced diet can contribute to better overall glycemic control in individuals with diabetes.

It’s important to note that while cherries have a low GI, portion control is still crucial for effective blood sugar management. The American Diabetes Association recommends a small portion of 14 cherries (about one cup) as a serving size.

In summary, the low glycemic index of cherries, along with their rich nutrient profile, makes them a valuable addition to a diabetes-friendly diet. By incorporating cherries and other low GI fruits into a balanced eating plan, individuals can support healthy blood sugar levels and potentially reduce their risk of diabetes-related complications.

Are Cherries Fattening?

The short answer is no, cherries are not inherently fattening when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. In fact, cherries may even support weight management goals due to their unique nutritional properties. Let’s explore how cherries affect metabolism, fat storage, and overall weight regulation.

Cherries’ Effect on Metabolism and Fat Storage

Cherries contain several compounds that may positively influence metabolism and fat storage:

  • Anthocyanins: These powerful antioxidants, which give cherries their rich red color, have been shown to boost metabolism and reduce inflammation in animal studies.
  • Melatonin: Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining a healthy metabolism and preventing weight gain.
  • Fiber: The fiber content in cherries can help promote feelings of fullness and reduce overall calorie intake, supporting weight management efforts.

Role of Cherry Polyphenols in Weight Regulation

Polyphenols, the beneficial plant compounds abundant in cherries, may play a role in weight regulation through several mechanisms:

  • Increased fat oxidation: Some polyphenols in cherries have been shown to stimulate the breakdown of fat cells, potentially reducing body fat accumulation.
  • Improved insulin sensitivity: Cherry polyphenols may enhance the body’s response to insulin, helping to regulate blood sugar levels and prevent insulin resistance, a key factor in weight gain and obesity.
  • Reduced inflammation: The anti-inflammatory properties of cherry polyphenols can help combat low-grade chronic inflammation, which is associated with obesity and metabolic disorders.

How to Incorporate Cherries into a Balanced Diet

To reap the potential weight management benefits of cherries without consuming excess calories, consider the following tips:

  • Practice portion control: Stick to a serving size of about 1 cup (154g) of fresh cherries, which contains approximately 97 calories.
  • Choose fresh or frozen: Opt for fresh or unsweetened frozen cherries over dried or sweetened varieties, which can contain added sugars and more concentrated calories.
  • Pair with protein and healthy fats: Combine cherries with a source of lean protein (e.g., Greek yogurt) or healthy fats (e.g., nuts) to create a balanced snack that promotes satiety and stable blood sugar levels.
  • Use as a natural sweetener: Incorporate pureed or mashed cherries into recipes like oatmeal, smoothies, or baked goods as a natural way to add sweetness and flavor without relying on added sugars.

Here’s a quick comparison of the calorie content of different cherry products:

Cherry ProductServing SizeCalories
Fresh, pitted1 cup (154g)97
Unsweetened frozen1 cup (140g)87
Dried, sweetened1/3 cup (40g)120
Canned in syrup1 cup (262g)223

As the table illustrates, opting for fresh or unsweetened frozen cherries is the most calorie-conscious choice.

In summary, cherries are not inherently fattening and can be a valuable addition to a weight management plan when consumed mindfully. By leveraging the metabolic benefits of cherry polyphenols and practicing portion control, individuals can enjoy this delicious fruit while supporting their overall health and wellness goals.

Other Health Benefits of Cherries

Beyond their potential to support weight management, cherries offer a wide array of health benefits thanks to their rich nutrient profile and potent plant compounds. From improving sleep quality to reducing muscle soreness and even potentially fighting cancer, cherries are a true superfruit. Let’s explore some of these impressive health benefits in more detail.

Improved Sleep Quality

Cherries, particularly tart cherries, are one of the few natural food sources of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Consuming cherries or cherry juice may help improve sleep quality and duration.

  • Increased melatonin levels: Studies have shown that drinking tart cherry juice can significantly increase melatonin levels in the body, promoting better sleep.
  • Enhanced sleep time and quality: Participants in a study who consumed tart cherry juice reported improved sleep duration and quality compared to a placebo group.

Reduced Muscle Soreness and Enhanced Exercise Recovery

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of cherries may help reduce exercise-induced muscle damage, soreness, and inflammation.

  • Faster recovery: Athletes who consumed tart cherry juice before and after intense strength training experienced faster recovery of muscle strength compared to a placebo group.
  • Reduced muscle soreness: Marathoners who drank tart cherry juice for five days before, on the day of, and for two days after a race reported significantly less muscle soreness compared to those who consumed a placebo.

Potential Anti-Cancer Properties

While more research is needed, some studies suggest that the compounds in cherries may have potential anti-cancer effects.

  • Anthocyanins: These powerful antioxidants in cherries have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in laboratory studies.
  • Perillyl alcohol: This compound found in cherries has demonstrated anti-tumor effects in animal studies, particularly against breast, liver, and lung cancer.

Here’s a summary of the key compounds in cherries and their potential health benefits:

CompoundPotential Health Benefits
Anthocyanins– Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects
– Improved insulin sensitivity
– Potential anti-cancer properties
Melatonin– Improved sleep quality and duration
– Antioxidant effects
Cyanidin– Anti-inflammatory effects
– Potential anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and anti-obesity properties
Perillyl alcohol– Potential anti-tumor effects

It’s important to note that while these studies are promising, more human research is needed to fully understand the extent of cherries’ health benefits. However, incorporating this delicious and nutritious fruit into a balanced diet is a simple way to potentially boost your overall health and well-being.

In summary, cherries offer a wide range of potential health benefits beyond their role in weight management. From improving sleep quality and exercise recovery to potentially fighting cancer, this superfruit is a nutritional powerhouse that deserves a place in your diet.

Ways to Enjoy Cherries

Cherries are a versatile fruit that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, from fresh and frozen to dried and juiced. Incorporating cherries into your diet is not only delicious but also a great way to reap their numerous health benefits. Here are some ideas to help you make the most of this nutritious fruit:

Fresh, Frozen, Dried, and Juice Options

  • Fresh cherries: Enjoy fresh cherries as a snack on their own, or add them to salads, yogurt, or oatmeal for a burst of flavor and nutrition.
  • Frozen cherries: Keep a bag of unsweetened frozen cherries in your freezer for a convenient addition to smoothies, baked goods, or as a cool treat on hot days.
  • Dried cherries: Dried cherries are a great option for on-the-go snacking or adding to trail mix, granola, or baked goods. Be mindful of portion sizes, as dried fruit is more concentrated in calories and sugar.
  • Cherry juice: Opt for 100% tart cherry juice to enjoy the anti-inflammatory and sleep-promoting benefits. Mix with sparkling water for a refreshing drink or use in recipes like sauces or marinades.

Delicious Cherry Recipes

Get creative in the kitchen with these cherry-inspired recipes:

  1. Cherry Smoothie Bowl:
    • Blend frozen cherries, banana, almond milk, and a scoop of protein powder until smooth.
    • Pour into a bowl and top with sliced almonds, chia seeds, and fresh cherries.
  2. Cherry Quinoa Salad:
    • Combine cooked quinoa, fresh cherries, diced cucumber, crumbled feta, and chopped mint.
    • Drizzle with a dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice, and honey.
  3. Cherry Chia Jam:
    • Simmer pitted cherries with a splash of water and a touch of honey until softened.
    • Mash the cherries and stir in chia seeds. Let sit until thickened.
    • Use as a topping for toast, yogurt, or oatmeal.
  4. Grilled Chicken with Cherry Salsa:
    • Grill chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper.
    • Top with a salsa made of diced cherries, red onion, jalapeño, lime juice, and cilantro.

While cherries are nutritious, it’s essential to consume them in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Here are some recommended portion sizes:

Cherry ProductServing SizeCalories
Fresh, pitted1 cup (154g)97
Unsweetened frozen1 cup (140g)87
Dried1/4 cup (40g)120
100% tart cherry juice8 oz119

Remember, variety is key to a healthy diet. Pair cherries with other nutrient-dense foods like leafy greens, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats to create satisfying, well-rounded meals and snacks.

In summary, cherries are a delicious and versatile fruit that can be enjoyed in many ways. From fresh and frozen to dried and juiced, there are countless opportunities to incorporate this nutritious powerhouse into your diet. By getting creative with recipes and being mindful of portion sizes, you can make cherries a regular part of your healthy lifestyle.


In summary, cherries are a delicious and nutritious fruit packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds. With their low calorie content, low glycemic index, and potential to support weight management, cherries can be a valuable addition to a balanced diet. Beyond aiding in weight regulation, cherries offer a wide array of health benefits, including improved sleep quality, reduced muscle soreness, and potential anti-cancer properties. Incorporating cherries into your diet is easy and versatile, with options ranging from fresh and frozen to dried and juiced. Embrace the many ways to enjoy this superfruit and reap its impressive health benefits!

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