Fresh Cherries - How Many Calories?

In one sense, fresh, sweet cherries are like potato chips -- you can't eat just one. It's been a good summer for cherry fans, crop yields exploded with sweet cherry harvests up 52 percent from last year. Often priced upwards of $5.00 a pound, a luscious bowl of dark cherries is a pricey treat. But when you see $2.99 a pound, suddenly you're grabbing a bulging bag of nature's candy from the produce aisle.

But before you start spitting pits from a big bowl of fresh cherries, be aware of the caloric cost. How many calories in a single, sweet cherry?

As you pop those cherries in your mouth, should you count in twos, threes, fours or fives? One sweet cherry has 5 calories. One cup contains about 90 calories, three grams of fiber, is a good source of vitamin C, and it's fat/sodium-free, too. Not bad if you're just grabbing a handful -- not a bowlful.

Cherry Health Benefits

While blueberries, strawberries and cranberries have achieved “super food” status and endless attention for their disease-fighting powers, cherry health benefits seem to have gone largely unnoticed by media nutritional reports. For years, these tasty little fruits were appreciated only for their ability to produce delicious pies, but new research suggests that cherries may have the power to combat a stunning array of diseases. The same compounds that give cherries their bright, beautiful color may also be responsible for neutralizing free radicals and preventing the inflammation that contributes to so many serious health conditions. Plus, they pack fiber, essential nutrients and sweet flavor into every bite. Learn why cherry health benefits are turning this tasty fruit into the next celebrated “super food.”

The Power of Antioxidants

Although they are often referred to as berries, cherries are actually a member of the stone fruit family and are related to apricots, peaches, plums and almonds. Cherries are classified as either sweet or tart and each variety has its own uses and benefits. Sweet cherries are sold fresh in your grocer’s produce section and are a favorite for snacking on raw. Tart cherries are usually dried, frozen, made into fruit juice, or canned for use in pies and cooking. Both types get their deep red color from potent antioxidants called anthocyanins which have been shown to hold anti-inflammatory properties that protect the body from an impressive array of serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. What’s so special about an anti-inflammatory? Although inflammation is the body’s natural way of staving off injuries and infections, chronic inflammation can increase the risk of many deadly diseases.

The anti-inflammatory properties of 20 cherries have been shown to be ten times stronger than aspirin but this tiny fruit has the potential to do a lot more than simply relieve headaches.

Heart disease

New research suggests that when tart cherries are consumed as a regular part of the diet, the antioxidants the body receives may lower blood lipids, thereby reducing the risk for heart disease. This anthocyanin consumption has also been linked with lowered body fat, especially in the abdominal region, which is another key factor in reducing the risk for cardiovascular diseases.

Type 2 Diabetes

Cherry health benefits may also have the ability to fight off diabetes, thanks to the same blood lipid-lowering powers that help prevent heart disease. Obesity, excess belly fat and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels are all risk factors for type 2 diabetes; anthocyanins may be effective at reducing all three. Anthocyanins may also increase insulin production and lower blood sugar levels in individuals already diagnosed with diabetes.

Insomnia and Sleep Disorders

Tart cherries are one of the only foods that contain significant levels of melatonin – a hormone produced by the brain that regulates sleep and circadian rhythms. Melatonin levels decrease with age and this decline is thought to play a large role in the sleep problems that many older people suffer. Tart cherries have higher levels of melatonin than are normally found in the body and may be a natural remedy to ease sleep problems. Try snacking on cherries before bedtime when you’re jet-lagged or having trouble falling asleep.

Neurogenerative Diseases

Melatonin and anthocyanins protect the entire body from oxidation, but these antioxidants may be particularly effective in protecting the brain’s neurons from oxidative damage. Preventing oxidative damage also prevents resulting conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and memory loss. More research is needed to determine whether cherries may someday play a role in treating and preventing these conditions in aging adults.

Arthritis and Gout

Cherries have long been used by alternative medicine practitioners and natural health devotees for their ability to help ease the painful symptoms of gout and arthritis. Gout is a very painful condition that occurs when high levels of uric acid lead to hard deposits of urate crystals in the joints and painful joint inflammation.  So far, most of the evidence for these cherry healing powers is anecdotal, but emerging research suggests that cherries may actually reduce the body’s uric acid levels (thereby helping to control gout). Cherry antioxidants may also reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.


Cherry health benefits may even include protection against certain types of cancers. Recent studies have implicated consumption of cherries in cutting the risk of colon cancer by reducing tumor development and the inhibiting the growth of colon and breast cancer cells.

Nutritious and Delicious

More research is needed to draw conclusions about the effects of cherries on serious health conditions, but there’s no doubt that cherries pack powerful nutrients into every bite. One cup of raw, sweet cherries packs three grams of fiber and just 90 calories.

*  Cherries are rich in vitamin C, potassium and contain 19 times the beta-carotene of strawberries and blueberries. Potassium can help regulate blood pressure while beta-carotene is important for strengthening the body’s immune system as well as protecting cells from free-radical damage.

*  The health benefits of dried cherries, frozen, fresh, and juiced are about the same but each version offers its own conveniences.

*  Dried cherries are portable, mess-free, and easy to snack on anywhere. Plus, they’re great added to salads, ice cream or homemade trail mix. A serving size of dried cherries is ¼ cup.

*  Cherry juice is another popular way to enjoy the fruit (especially among arthritis and gout sufferers) because juice concentrate allows for a quick and easy way to get cherry health benefits in one drink. Tart cherry juice concentrate is known to have one of the highest antioxidant powers of any form of produce. Mix a few ounces of concentrate with water for a refreshing drink or add the juice to smoothies and shakes.

*  Canned and frozen cherries are perfect for the off-peak season and have the benefit of a long shelf life. They are especially popular for use in pies, cheesecakes and other recipes.

*  Fresh cherries require no preparation and make a delicious snack, especially when eaten during their peak season, which runs from June to September. When shopping, pick the ripest cherries you can find as they don’t continue to ripen once picked from the tree. Look for large, plump cherries with dark, glossy skin and fresh green stems.

Snacking on fresh berries is a tasty and easy way to reap the many health benefits of cherry but they can also spice up all kinds of dishes and recipes. Cherry pie and cheesecake are classics but try adding cherries to stuffing, oatmeal cookies, meat glazes or lemonade, just to name a few.  An Internet search for “cherry recipes” yields an interesting selection of dishes that will tempt any cherry-lover’s taste buds. This versatile fruit has a one-of-a-kind flavor that complements a wide assortment of foods, from sweet to savory.

Although additional study is needed to draw definite conclusions about cherry health benefits, this is one fruit that appears to have a very promising future. While you wait to hear more about the power of cherries, why not try incorporating them into your daily diet in new and interesting ways? Healthy, delicious, convenient and versatile; good food doesn’t get any better than that!

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