Fresh, sweet cherries like bings have a relatively short growing season and a relatively high price tag. Nutritionally, however, they’re a valuable splurge. Cherries are low in calories and contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that can help satisfy hunger and ward off several chronic diseases and conditions.
One cup of bing cherries with pits contains about 74 calories, 1 gram of protein, no fat, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber and 15 grams of sugar. In contrast, 1 cup of frozen, presweetened cherries contains about 230 calories, 3 grams of protein, 0.3 grams of fat, 58 grams of carbohydrates, 5.5 grams of fiber and 52.5 grams of sugar.
Fresh sweet cherries are also a valuable source of many vitamins and minerals. According to a 2013 article for Fox News by registered dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot, bing cherries contain antioxidants and other nutrients that can help relieve inflammation, ease arthritis pain, prevent cancer and lower blood pressure. In another article, University of Arizona registered dietitian Cynthia Thomson and plant sciences professor Dr. Chieri Kubota wrote that the anthocyanin compounds in sweet cherries like bings may help lower the risk of cardiovascular conditions, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s. Anthocyanins are antioxidants that are associated with lower disease and mortality rates.
Fresh Vs. Dried
Fresh cherries have a number of advantages over their dried and preserved cousins. For one, fruits that are picked fresh and in peak condition have higher nutrient contents than those that have been stored or preserved for a while. You’ll also take in fewer calories per serving by eating fresh cherries than you will by drinking a glass of cherry juice or eating a handful of dried cherries. Finally, you’ll end up eating less total sugar – just the natural sugars that are in the raw, fresh fruit.
Keeping Cherries Healthy
It’s not too hard to ruin the nutritional benefits of fresh cherries by using a few to top a decadent sundae or baking them into a high-fat, high-calorie birthday cake. To complement the good nutrition that cherries offer, serve them with other fresh foods that are packed with vitamins and minerals. For example, toss pitted cherries into a fresh fruit salad, mix them into morning oatmeal, stir them into a sauce to top lean pork chops, or just eat them straight out of the bag as a snack, after washing them, of course. A strength of bing cherries is their versatility, so pair them with both sweet and savory foods to enjoy their nutritional benefits right along with their flavor.