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Cherries. Health benefits and risks of their consumption

Cherries are round fruits that belong to the Prunus genus and are part of the Rosaceae family. They come in various cultivars, including sweet cherries and tart cherries, each with its own distinct flavor and characteristics.

Sweet cherries: Sweet cherries, such as Bing, Rainier, and Lambert, are typically enjoyed fresh due to their juicy and sweet flavor. They have deep red to dark purple skin and flesh.

Tart cherries: Tart cherries, also known as sour cherries, have a more acidic taste compared to sweet cherries. They are commonly used in cooking, baking, and making juices and preserves. Montmorency and Morello are popular varieties of tart cherries.

Cherries have originated in the region of Asia Minor and spread to Europe and other parts of the world. Cherries are typically available during the summer months, although frozen, dried, and canned cherries can be found year-round. Sweet cherries are often eaten fresh as a snack or used in salads, desserts, and fruit compotes. Tart cherries are commonly used in pies, tarts, jams, jellies, and cherry-based sauces. Cherry juice and concentrates are also popular options.

Nutritional data

Cherries are low in calories and fat while being a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They contain vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants like anthocyanins and polyphenols, which contribute to their potential health benefits.

Nutrients: Cherries, 100 gr
Calories: 63
Carbohydrates: 16 gr
Fibers: 2.1 gr
Sugars: 13 gr
Proteins: 1.1 gr
Fats: 0.2 gr
Vitamin C: 7.0 mg (10% of the Daily Value [DV])
Vitamin B5: 0.2 mg (5% of the DV)
Potassium: 222 μg (6% of the DV)
Copper: 0.06 mg (3% of the DV)
Manganese: 0.07 mg (3% of the DV)

These values are approximate and can vary depending on the specific type and ripeness of the cherries.


Cherries contain various phytochemicals, which are natural compounds found in plants that have beneficial effects on human health. Here are some notable phytochemicals found in cherries:

  • Anthocyanins: Cherries, particularly tart cherries, are rich in anthocyanins, which are responsible for their vibrant red color. Anthocyanins are potent antioxidants that have been associated with numerous health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. They also contribute to the potential cardiovascular and cognitive benefits of cherries.
  • Flavonols: Cherries contain flavonols such as quercetin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin. These compounds possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and are known to have potential cardiovascular benefits.
  • Hydroxycinnamic acids: Cherries contain hydroxycinnamic acids, including caffeic acid and p-coumaric acid. These phytochemicals exhibit antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and may help protect against oxidative stress and chronic diseases.
  • Melatonin: Cherries, especially tart cherries, are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone involved in regulating sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin acts as an antioxidant and has been associated with improved sleep quality and duration.
  • Queritrin: Queritrin is a flavonoid present in cherries that possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been studied for its potential neuroprotective effects and its role in promoting brain health.
  • Procyanidins: Cherries contain procyanidins, a class of flavonoids with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Procyanidins have been associated with cardiovascular benefits, including improved endothelial function and blood pressure regulation.

These phytochemicals work synergistically to provide various health benefits associated with cherries. The specific phytochemical content of cherries can vary depending on the variety, ripeness, and growing conditions.

Cherries and Glycemic Index

Cherries have a low glycemic index (GI), which is a measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, typically glucose. The glycemic index of cherries can vary depending on factors such as ripeness and variety, but they generally have a GI value of around 20-25.

A low GI indicates that cherries have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels, making them a suitable choice for individuals concerned about managing blood sugar levels, such as those with diabetes or those following a low-glycemic diet. The low GI of cherries can be attributed to their high fiber content and relatively low carbohydrate content. Fiber helps slow down the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream, resulting in a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels.

Health benefits of eating cherries

Cherries offer several potential health benefits. They are rich in antioxidants, which help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation. Cherries have been associated with promoting heart health, reducing inflammation, aiding in sleep, and potentially providing relief from pain and muscle soreness.

Anti-inflammatory properties

Cherries, particularly tart cherries, have been found to possess potent anti-inflammatory properties. The anthocyanins and other antioxidants present in cherries help reduce inflammation in the body, which may provide relief for conditions such as arthritis, gout, and muscle soreness.

Pain relief and muscle recovery

Cherries, especially tart cherries, have been shown to have natural pain-relieving properties. Consuming tart cherry juice or concentrates before and after intense exercise or physical activity may help reduce muscle damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress, resulting in faster recovery and decreased muscle soreness.

Improved sleep quality

Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Drinking tart cherry juice or consuming cherries before bedtime may help improve sleep quality and duration. This can be beneficial for individuals with insomnia, jet lag, or sleep disturbances.

Cardiovascular health

The antioxidants and bioactive compounds found in cherries contribute to cardiovascular health. Regular consumption of cherries has been associated with lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, and improved lipid profiles. The anthocyanins in cherries help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, promoting heart health.

Cancer-fighting properties

Cherries contain various antioxidants and phytochemicals that possess anti-cancer properties. The anthocyanins found in cherries have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, including colon, breast, and prostate cancers.

Weight management and metabolism

Cherries are relatively low in calories and high in fiber, making them a satisfying snack that can aid in weight management. The fiber content helps promote feelings of fullness and can contribute to healthy digestion. Additionally, the anthocyanins in cherries may help regulate metabolism and reduce the risk of obesity.

Cognitive function and brain health

The antioxidants present in cherries have been linked to improved cognitive function and brain health. Studies suggest that regular consumption of cherries may help enhance memory, reduce age-related cognitive decline, and protect against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease.

Side effects of eating cherries

While cherries offer numerous health benefits, there are a few potential health concerns associated with their consumption.


Some individuals may have allergies to cherries or other fruits in the same botanical family, such as peaches, plums, or apricots. Cherry allergies can cause symptoms such as itching, swelling, hives, or difficulty breathing in sensitive individuals. If you have known fruit allergies, it's advisable to exercise caution when consuming cherries.

Gastrointestinal issues

Cherries contain natural sugars, including fructose, which can cause digestive discomfort in individuals who are sensitive to these sugars. Excessive consumption of cherries or other high-fiber fruits may lead to symptoms such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea, particularly in those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or fructose intolerance.

Kidney stones

Cherries, especially sour cherries, are relatively high in oxalates, which can contribute to the formation of kidney stones in susceptible individuals. If you have a history of kidney stones or are at risk for developing them, it may be prudent to moderate your intake of cherries.

Medication interactions

Cherries, particularly tart cherries and cherry products, contain compounds that can interact with certain medications. For example, tart cherries may have a mild blood-thinning effect, so individuals taking anticoagulant medications should consult with their healthcare provider to ensure safe consumption.

Food intolerance

Food intolerance to cherry (Code 127) is tested on TrophoScan® 200, 300, and 400. Cherry antigens have been isolated without prior heat treatment* of the antigens. The antigens tested are a mixture of proteins derived from the flesh and skin of the fruit. The following cherry allergens have been characterized: Pru av 1, Pru av 2, Pru av 3, Pru av 4. The levels of certain proteins are highly dependent on the cherry variety, fruit ripening, and storage conditions. Cross-reactions are possible between the various species of the Rosaceae family (almond, apple, apricot, etc.) and possibly more strongly between species and varieties within the genus Prunus. Certain proteins, potentially allergenic, are found in increased concentrations in the skin of the fruit than in the flesh, and some are resistant to heat and gastric acid. Possible cross-reactivity between cherry and foods such as celery, carrot, peanut, soy, grape, corn, cabbage, asparagus, walnut, hazelnut, and others.

Sour cherry (Prunus cerasus) (Code 221) is tested on TrophoScan® 300 and 400. Sour cherry antigens are a mixture of antigens and come from the fresh fruit together with those isolated after heat treatment* of the fruit.

Rainier cherries (Code 358) are another cherry variety with characteristic yellow-cream flesh color and are included in TrophoScan® 400.

Diagnostiki Athinon's TrophoScan® is the most valid, reliable, and effective way to test food intolerances, by measuring the levels of total IgG antibodies in the blood against potentially allergenic foods. The presence of these antibodies has been associated with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (irritable bowel, celiac disease, and other disorders), migraines and other neurological disorders, disorders of the immune system (autoimmune diseases, susceptibility to infections, etc.), obesity and weight loss difficulty, skin diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthralgias, and other chronic diseases.

TrophoScan® has been designed and created entirely by Diagnostiki Athinon. The food antigens used for the test have come from Greek products and from products that we can find and consume in the Greek market. Various studies have shown that there is a difference in the antigenic composition of food depending on the variety of food. Even the maturity of a fruit or vegetable can play a role in the antigenic composition.

*The heat treatment of antigens we use in Diagnostiki Athinon before the isolation of the antigens is a unique process before the beginning of the process of isolation of food proteins. It is made in foods that are commonly cooked (e.g., meat, poultry, fish) and undergo a thermal laboratory preparation equivalent to cooking so that their antigenicity is even closer to the actual antigenic structure of the food we consume. Antigens isolated in this way have been proven to be more effective (making the ELISA system much more sensitive) in recognizing and binding antibodies of all classes (IgA, IgG, IgE, IgM). Only the TrophoScan® test of food intolerance across Europe uses this approach to the investigation of Food Intolerance. Food processing results in the formation of neo-allergens.

Cherries and FODMAPs

Cherries contain certain sugars known as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols). FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and may cause digestive symptoms in some individuals, especially those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other gastrointestinal disorders.

Cherries contain the FODMAP known as excess fructose, which can be problematic for individuals with fructose malabsorption. However, the amount of excess fructose in cherries is relatively low compared to some other fruits. The Monash University Low FODMAP Diet App, a reputable source for FODMAP information, categorizes cherries as low FODMAP in small serving sizes (e.g., 10 cherries).

Individual tolerance to FODMAPs can vary. Some people may be able to tolerate cherries without experiencing symptoms, while others may need to limit their intake. There are many other fruits that are lower in FODMAPs and may be more suitable for individuals on a low FODMAP diet. These include strawberries, blueberries, oranges, and grapes, among others.


Vasilis J. Sideris
Medical Doctor, Biopathologist (Microbiologist)
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner, CFMP®

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