Cherries have a relatively low caloric content, but they have significant amounts of bioactive components including:
According to a 2018 review published in the journal Nutrients, cherries are grouped into two major types: sweet and tart. In the United States, the most commonly grown sweet cherry is Bing. The most commonly grown tart cherry is Montmorency.
Most sweet cherries are consumed fresh. Only 20 to 25 percent of sweet cherries are canned, frozen, dried, brined, or juiced. That contrasts to tart cherries, the majority of which (97 percent) are processed, primarily for cooking.
If you have diabetes, it’s important to keep your blood glucose levels within the limits suggested by your doctor. One way to do that is to monitor your intake of carbohydrates.
Healthy sources of dietary carbs include nonstarchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. Cherries are an option, but it’s important to monitor your portion size.
According to The British Diabetic Association, a small portion is 14 cherries (about the same as 2 kiwi fruit, 7 strawberries, or 3 apricots). Since different people have different tolerance to carbohydrates, consider testing your blood glucose level before and after trying cherries for the first time.
Based on ripeness, a 1-cup helping of pitted sweet cherries has about 25 grams of carbs. That’s the same as about 6 teaspoons of sugar. A 1-cup serving of pitted sour cherries has about 19 grams of carbs, which is about the same as 5 teaspoons of sugar.
A serving of 1/2 cup should not be a problem for most diabetics. However, the best way of understanding how your body reacts to cherries is to check your blood sugar levels one to two hours after eating them.
Canned cherries are often packed in juice or syrup that contain a lot of extra sugar. One cup of canned cherries (and its liquid) packed in heavy syrup has about 60 grams of carbohydrates. That translates to about 15 teaspoons of sugar.
A serving of 5 maraschino cherries contains about 11 grams of carbs, equal to about 2.5 teaspoons of sugar.
The glycemic index (GI) indicates food effects on blood sugar level based on carbohydrate content. A high glycemic index will raise your blood glucose level. The glycemic index of fresh sweet cherries is 62, a medium-GI food. The glycemic index of fresh sour cherries is 22, a low-GI food.
There’s ongoing research regarding a potential role for cherries as a treatment for diabetes.
The results of these and other studies suggest that continuing research might show that cherries have a role in healthy glucose regulation, possibly reducing the risk of diabetes and alleviating its adverse effects.
- A 2018 review indicated that both sweet and tart cherries are a rich source of polyphenols and vitamin C, and can promote health by preventing or decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress.
- A 2012 study of diabetic rats concluded that extract of cherries is useful in controlling blood glucose level and that cherries appear to aid in diabetes control and diminution of the complications of diabetes.
- A 2014 study concluded that cherry extract has a beneficial effect on diabetic rats.
- A 2017 journal article concluded that the dietary anthocyanins found in cherries, along with other fruits such as blueberries, appear to be targeting insulin sensitivity and have potential to modulate conditions such diabetes.
If you have diabetes, cherries could be a healthy and tasty part of your diet providing vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. However, based on the glycemic index of cherries, you should practice portion control when enjoying them.
A number of studies show that cherries might eventually play a part in diabetes treatment, including glucose regulation.