In addition to being naturally sweet, cherries have a relatively low caloric content. They also contain a nice dose of nutrients and healthy bioactive components per serving, 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 are living with 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 tolerances to carbohydrates, consider testing your blood glucose level before and after trying cherries for the first time.

While cherries contain nutrients and fiber that make them a nutritious choice for most diets, if you’re living with diabetes, part of managing your symptoms is watching your intake of carbs and sugars.

Type of cherryCarbs
Fresh sweet cherries (1 cup serving, pitted)25g
Fresh sour cherries (1 cup serving, pitted)19g
Canned cherries packed in syrup (1 cup serving)60g
Maraschino cherries (5, from a can)10g

Fresh cherries

Based on ripeness, a 1-cup serving of pitted sweet cherries has about 25 grams of carbs. A 1-cup serving of pitted sour cherries has about 19 grams of carb.

While a serving of 1/2 cup should not be a problem for most individuals living with diabetes, the best way to understand how your body reacts to cherries is to check your blood sugar levels 1 to 2 hours after eating a small serving.

Canned cherries

Canned cherries are often packed in juice or syrup that contain a lot of extra sugar. A 1-cup serving of canned cherries packed in heavy syrup has about 60 grams of carbohydrates.

Maraschino cherries

A serving of 5 maraschino cherries contains about 10 grams of carbs.

The glycemic index (GI) indicates food effects on blood sugar levels based on factors like:

  • ripeness
  • cooking method
  • the type of sugar it contains
  • the amount of processing it has undergone

A food with a high glycemic index may raise your blood glucose level.

Fresh cherries are noted as low GI foods, as long as you pay attention to the serving size.

There’s ongoing research regarding the potential role cherries might play in diabetes management.

The results of these and other studies suggest that cherries may 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, which can be health-promoting by preventing or decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress.
  • A 2012 study of Alloxan-induced diabetic rats concluded that extract of cherries is useful in controlling blood glucose level and that cherries appear to aid in diabetes management and reduction of complications of diabetes.
  • A 2014 study concluded that a combination of purified sweet and sour cherries and an antioxidant cherry extract had beneficial effects on lowering glucose and microalbumin levels as well as increasing creatine output in diabetic rats.
  • A 2017 journal article concluded that dietary anthocyanins found in cherries, along with other fruits such as blueberries, appear to target insulin sensitivity and increase it. They also have shown potential to help manage conditions such diabetes.

Because research is ongoing, no hard and fast conclusions can currently be made when it comes to cherries and blood sugar management — especially because some of the above studies were done in animals, not humans.

While the research seems promising, your personal blood sugar measurements are the true test of how beneficial cherries are for you.

If you are living with diabetes, cherries can 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 management, including glucose regulation, but your specific glucose measurements should be the defining factor in how often you’ll want to enjoy these fruits.