Most of us don't think about the nutritional value of cherries when we're snacking on them in summer. Whether you eat black cherries or tart cherries, you're getting a sweet treat that has a number of health benefits. Unfortunately for us, baking a cherry pie negates most of them.
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Cherries provide the body with glucose, its preferred source of energy. According to the USDA FoodData Central, a whole cup is less than 100 calories.
Black Cherries vs. Tart Cherries
According to NutritionFacts.org, tart cherries, also known as sour cherries, are the kind often used in baking, and sweet cherries, or dark cherries, are the kind you eat fresh. Both are rich in anthocyanins, which are phytonutrients that are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables.
According to a September 2015 study published in Advances in Nutrition, anthocyanins are polyphenol pigments and the flavonoid group. There are responsible for creating many of the red to orange and blue to violet colors that are present in plants.
Anthocyanins are thought to be what gives both types of cherries their health benefits. According to a September 2013 study published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, regular consumption of anthocyanin-rich foods is thought to provide a variety of health benefits such as cardiovascular protection, vision improvement, neuroprotection, anti-inflammatory effects, anti-obesity, anti-diabetes properties and cancer protection. However, additional research is needed because much of the meta analysis was animal studies.
Dark Cherries Nutrition Facts
According to the USDA, 1 cup of pitted black cherries contains:
- 97 calories
- 2 grams of protein
- 0 grams of fat
- 25 grams of carbohydrates
- 3 grams of fiber
- 20 grams of sugar, most of which is glucose and fructose
- 20 milligrams of calcium
- 17 milligrams of magnesium
- 32 milligrams of phosphorus
- 342 milligrams of potassium
- 0 grams of sodium
- 11 milligrams of vitamin C
Black cherry nutrition facts don't show the amount of anthocyanins, but compared to tart cherries, they are a richer source because they are richer in color, often deep red to almost black — hence the name black cherry. The nutritional value of cherries is higher than most realize, making them a wonderful healthy snack choice.
However, because of their fructose content, they are among the fruits that may cause bloating and gas. If you experience this, eat smaller portions until your body adjusts, then gradually increase your intake.
Carbs in Black Cherries
Looking at the carbs in black cherries, you net 22 grams. Compared to strawberries, another fruit high in anthocyanins, cherries are a fruit relatively high in carbs. According to the USDA, 1 cup of strawberries contains 49 calories and only 12 carbohydrates. Once you subtract the 3 grams of fiber, you're left with 9 net carbs.
Should the carbs in black cherries steer you away from making them part of your nutritionally balanced diet? When you look at their glycemic index, you see they're a much healthier fruit option for those who are watching their blood sugar than many other fruits.
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels. The higher the GI, the more it causes blood sugar levels to spike. According to the University of Sydney, a serving of dark cherries has a glycemic index of 63, but a glycemic load of nine.
According to the Glycemic Index Foundation, the glycemic load combines the quality and quantity of the carbohydrates. Anything under 10 is considered to be a low glycemic load, while anything at 20 or more is considered high.
At first glance, the carbs in black cherries and the GI may cause you to shy away from the fruit. It's only when you look at the glycemic load you realize the nutritional value of cherries is worth it, since black cherries nutrition facts only paint part of the picture.
- Nutrition Facts: "Which are More Anti-Inflammatory: Sweet Cherries or Tart Cherries?"
- Advances in Nutrition: "Anthocyanins"
- Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety: "The Case for Anthocyanin Consumption to Promote Human Health: A Review"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central: "Cherries, Sweet, Raw"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central: "Strawberries, Raw"
- University of Sydney: "Glycemic Index Cherries, Dark, Raw, Pitted"
- Glycemic Index Foundation: "What About Glycemic Index?"
- Harvard University: Listing of Vitamins
- UC Davis: 45 Bing Cherries a Day May Keep the Doctor Away
- The Journal of Nutrition: Sweet Bing Cherries Lower Circulating Concentrations of Markers for Chronic Inflammatory Diseases in Healthy Humans
- Penn State: Reap the Health Benefits of Cherries
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute: Flavonoids