Whether baked in a pie or freshly picked off the tree, cherries are popular for their distinctive taste. But flavor is not the only benefit these fleshy stone fruits bring to the table.
Cherries are loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols that help fight disease, according to the October 2010 issue of "Molecules." The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA and is based on 1 cup of sweet cherries eaten raw without the pits.
Calories, Carbohydrates and Sugars
One portion of cherries contains 97 calories, 25 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of sugar. A drawback of this fruit is that a large percentage of its calories come from sugar.
The USDA recommends 130 grams of carbohydrates a day, but people following some "low carb" diets are restricted to as few as 20 to 30 grams. A handful of cherries alone could exceed this limit.
One of the benefits of cherries is their fiber content. With 3 grams of fiber, cherries provide 13 percent of the recommended daily amount. Fiber promotes digestion, prevents constipation and aids in weight loss.
Cherries contain 10.8 milligrams of Vitamin C. This vitamin is necessary for the collagen formation of bones, blood, muscle and blood vessels and helps the body absorb iron. The fruit also contains beta carotene and provides low amounts of vitamin K, vitamin B-6 and vitamin A.
The potassium level of cherries is 342 milligrams, or 10 percent of the daily recommended intake. Potassium helps the heart and kidneys function properly and supports the body's digestive and muscular systems. Cherries also contain some copper, manganese, magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorus and zinc.
Cherries are high in phytosterols. These plant sterols are used to lower "bad" cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Research at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University also suggests that phytosterols could help lower the risk of cancer and improve urinary tract symptoms.