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Can Diabetics Eat Cherries?

by
author image Jenna Cee
Jenna Cee has been writing professionally since 2006. Her articles appear on 2Athletes.com and Women's Fitness Online. She is a personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and as a fitness and sports nutritionist through the International Sports Sciences Association. Cee holds a Master of Science in human nutrition from Washington State University.
Can Diabetics Eat Cherries?
Cherries hanging from a branch of a cherry tree. Photo Credit panco971/iStock/Getty Images

If you are a diabetic, it is important to keep your blood sugar as stable as possible. This can be done be abstaining from foods that are high in sugar, especially simple sugars, that tend to raise blood glucose levels. You may be confused as to whether you can eat fruit such as cherries, because although fruit is a healthful source of vitamins and minerals, it does have sugar. According to the American Diabetes Association, you can eat fruit, and cherries are certainly allowed.

Cherries and Diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association, you can eat cherries. In fact, the Association encourages you to do so if you have a "sweet tooth." Although cherries have sugar, it is natural sugar, which promotes healthy blood sugar levels. The best type of cherries, or fruit in general, is either fresh, frozen or canned without any added sweeteners.

Glycemic Index

Tart cherries score a 22 on the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a quantitative chart that measures your body's after-meal glucose response. In other words, the glycemic index shows how much a food can raise your blood glucose levels. At a ranking of 22, tart cherries are a low-glycemic food that will not significantly raise your blood sugar levels. Sweet cherries, on the other hand, have a GI of 62, so they have a moderate effect on your blood sugar. It is important to note that this ranking is for unsweetened cherries, not maraschino cherries or cherry "drinks" that have added sugars that will likely raise your blood sugar levels. Diabetics should avoid those food choices.

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Health Benefits

In his book, "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth," Dr. Jonny Bowden, Ph.D. and a clinical nutrition specialist, considers cherries among the very most healthful and nutritious foods you can eat. Aside from being a good source of vitamin A, Dr. Bowden explains that cherries contain two valuable cancer-fighting compounds, quercetin and ellagic acid. Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant that destroys free radicals and also exhibits anti-inflammatory capabilities that may help to prevent heart disease. This is especially beneficial for people with diabetes, who face a higher risk of heart disease. According to Dr. Bowden, ellagic acid can inhibit the growth of cancer cells and may even directly kill existing cancer cells without affecting your healthy cells.

Purchasing and Serving Tips

Select organic cherries, whenever possible, as part of a healthy diet. A 2003 report by the "Environmental Working Group," lists cherries as one of the foods most likely to be contaminated by toxic pesticides or herbicides, and buying organic might help reduce your pesticide and herbicide intake. Use cherries to add natural sweetness to your favorite whole-grain cereal, combine cherries with diced onion and jalapeno for a healthful salsa, or throw a handful of pitted cherries on top of a spinach salad.

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